Peter Gent Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Peter Gent 1942–

American novelist and scriptwriter.

A former professional football player with the Dallas Cowboys, Gent is concerned in his three novels with exposing the sordid activities of football players, coaches, and club owners. Gent's first work, North Dallas Forty (1973), is a semiautobiographical account of the last playing days of Phil Elliott, a pass receiver for the Cowboys. Much of the novel depicts his teammates' sexual exploits and drug use and the pressures placed on the players by coaches and management. Although some critics were dismayed by the explicit violence and drug cataloguing in the book, most praised Gent's insight into methods of survival in professional football. Gent collaborated on the screenplay for the 1979 film adaptation of his novel.

Gent's two subsequent novels have not been as well received. In Texas Celebrity Turkey Trot (1978), Gent relates the story of Mabry Jenkins, another Texas football player who is released from the team. Mabry attempts to capitalize on his celebrity status while hoping for one more chance to play football. Some critics found the characters and situations too similar to those in North Dallas Forty. Gent's recent novel The Franchise (1983) depicts a football team called the Texas Pistols from its inception to its appearance in the Super Bowl. Involving little on-field action, the story concentrates instead on the behind-the-scenes gambling, bribery, and political corruption which helped the Pistols become a championship team.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 89-92 and Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1982.)