Robert W's Reviews > The Franchise

The Franchise by Peter Gent
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Sep 18, 07

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Read in January, 2006

Peter Gent is best known as the author of North Dallas Forty, but in 1983 he wrote another football novel, the completely demented The Franchise. According to Texas Literary Outlaws, this book was written during a period in Gent’s life when he was exhibiting some scarily paranoid behavior. This comes through loud and clear in The Franchise, which is a conspiracy-filled history of a new expansion team, located in the never-named city of Austin. The franchise brings in the coach and quarterback from U.T. (also never named) and starts towards their plan of building a Super Bowl team in three years. At first, the primary villain (among many) of the piece is Dick Conly, right-hand man to owner Cyrus Chandler. Conly is an amoral schemer who knows he’s smarter than everyone else. While he never really becomes a “good guy,” his alliance strategically changes to the good guys later on in the novel. Conly gets most of the best lines. For example:

“It’s about goddam time.” Conly lurched out of the chair and snatched up the crocodile briefcase. “Does the son of a bitch want to take a goddam bribe or not? I have important people to corrupt.”

The book is full of funny, awful, corruption like this. It’s amazingly bloodsoaked--James Elroy would envy the body count--and each outrage is certain to be topped by a later outrage. One can’t call it satirical because the picture it paints of the NFL is not remotely believable. But The Franchise is funny, twisted, and entertaining. It reminds me a little of Carl Hiaasen, but even more extreme. It wasn’t as good as North Dallas Forty, but still quite readable.
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