Vince Papale was a 30-year-old high school teacher when he joined the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. Vince Papale's story was remarkable: he had no NFL experience and had run track, not played football, at St. Joseph's University. In 1974 he caught on with the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League, but the team folded the next year. In 1976 the Eagles' rookie coach, Dick Vermiel, held open tryouts for players. Papale tried out for Vermiel, was invited to training camp and, against all odds, made the team. Vince Papale spent three seasons with the Eagles (1976-78) as a special teams player and wide receiver. He later found success as a follow-your-dreams motivational speaker based on his NFL experience. His story was retold in the 2006 movie Invincible, with Mark Wahlberg as Papale. He published the book Be Invincible! A Playbook for Reaching Your Full Potential in 2011.
Vince Papale is sometimes compared with Jim Morris, who became a major league baseball rookie at age 35. Morris’s story was told in the 2002 film The Rookie… Because he’s from Philadelphia, Vince Papale is also sometimes compared with the fictional comeback kid Rocky Balboa… Dick Vermiel coached the Eagles to a Super Bowl loss in 1981 and then won the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000.
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