Craddock to play pro ball in Italy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All Joe Craddock once knew about Italy was Olive Garden chicken Parmesan, his girlfriend’s lasagna and that he wanted to fish the river (Po) in Venice. Now Italy will be a place where dreams come true for the quarterback that led Briarwood Christian to a Class 5A football championship in 2003.

Craddock leaves the U.S. on Saturday to begin his professional football career with the Parma Panthers in Parma, Italy.

“The deal is the Americans they bring in they really expect to play,” said Craddock, “They did tell me a lot of it is going to be thrown on my shoulders.”

Craddock said he will take a mix of the offenses he ran at Briarwood and Middle Tennessee State University to put together his offense in Italy, training he hopes land him a coaching job when his playing days are over. He’s hoping he’ll have a few good receivers to go along with former Eastern Washington receiver Craig McIntyre, who returns to the Panthers two years after being one of the primary sources for John Grisham’s novel about the Panthers, “Playing for Pizza.”

“I know Craig’s going to be,” Craddock said. “I’m just hoping to spread them out and just like Texas Tech, throw it around the yard little bit.”

Craddock hopes he can continue the Panthers’ post season success and return Parma to the Italian Football League Super Bowl. If so, then he can try out the only Italian word he knows as he beats opponents — “Ciao.”