Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vince Papale

Vince Papale was a 30-year-old high school teacher when he joined the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. 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, which folded the next year. In 1976 the Eagle's 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. Papale spent three seasons with the Eagles (1976-78) as a special teams player and wide receiver. His story was retold in the 2006 movie Invincible, with Mark Wahlberg as Papale.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, 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.

The City of Brotherly Love
There are few facts that crosses our path. I was born in 1976, the year Papale became an Eagles. The summer that he went to the camp at Widener. 20 years later, I was halfway of my sophomore year at Widener; but Eagles no longer held their training camp there. (It was in Lehigh in Bethlehem, PA).
It was the One University Place in Chester, PA that changed him, and I believed me too. It rumored that one of the hourly chimes from the Old Main was a tribute to Papale.
As most of the Philadelphians (Phillies?), the downtown at your feet from the Museum of Art (The Rocky's Steps) creates some goosebumps, the priceless sensation. The feeling of believing in yourself!
I lived to that even after quite a time away from the museum, Kelly Drive and the Fairmount park. I am missing countless nights that I spent stargazing there, and the Sundays (free entry) viewing Picassos and Van Goghs. A poster print replica of Van Gogh's Starry Night dominated my dining table, as a tribute to the good old days. Those were the days.

I saw The Invicible with Wahlberg sometime last year, and just finish reading the book by Papale and Millman. Honestly, the book is much more better. A very good inspirational piece.

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