Rick Dockery is a third string NFL quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, who throws three interceptions in 11 minutes in the AFC championship game, blowing a 17 point lead and resulting in the Browns missing their chance at their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. He is cut from the team, vilified in the press, and is facing legal troubles due to a questionable paternity lawsuit. His agent Arnie tries to find him work in the NFL, but no team will take him. Arnie manages to find him a starting position for the Parma Panthers of the Italian Football league for meager compensation. Rick accepts the job, glad to get away from the negative press and his legal troubles in the United States, but wary of living in Italy, where he doesn't know the language and where American football draws little attention or respect. The Parma Panthers have only two other Americans on the team – halfback Slidell “Sly” Turner and Safety Trey Colby.
The Panthers win their first game with Rick, then lose a couple for various reasons, including the loss of his American teammates to homesickness and injury. Despite these problems, Italy and the team are growing on Rick, and he begins to feel some loyalty to them despite the fact that Arnie has found him a more lucrative job offer with a more respected CFL team. Rick decides to honor his contract with the Parma Panthers. With renewed resolve, a talented Italian wide receiver and a new strategy, they win each of their remaining regular-season games, then advance to the playoffs and the Italian Super Bowl, a very close and hard-fought game against their rivals, the Bergamo Lions.
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