(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, August 27, 2006


Most of you who have logged onto this blog lately have done so because of references I have made to Vince Papale, the Cinderella-like football player who literally came out of nowhere to make then-new coach Dick Vermeil's Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. The story is know well-known that Papale, who did not play college football (he did graduate from hoops-happy St. Joseph's in Philadelphia), responded to an open tryout, ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, and made the then-downtrodden Birds as a special teamer and back-up wide receiver. Most definitely, you have logged onto this blog because of all of the hype surrounding Disney's latest sports movie, Invincible, which focuses on Papale's story.

It was an unseasonably cold and overcast day in the Philadelphia area today, and my family and I went to the local movie theater to watch the movie. We loved it -- it's the lastest in a long and distinguished line of feel-good sports movies, from Rudy to The Rookie, and it's an inspirational tale about a guy who had nothing to lose but had to overcome the sense that at thirty his life thus far had been only about losing. In the year that Rocky debuted, Papale was the real Rocky -- and he didn't just go the distance, he made the squad and lasted for three seasons. Philadelphians loved him and Vermeil then -- and they do to this day.

Mark Wahlberg did an excellent job of playing Papale (I'll overlook the fact that a) he doesn't really look Italian and b) he didn't nail the Philadelphia accent), and Greg Kinnear gets major props for his portrayal of Dick Vermeil. Only Vermeil can get Vermeil's intensity right, but Kinner did a nice job coming very close. The producers did a nice job of capturing a South Philadelphia rowhouse neighborhood, and, also, the relatively colorless 70's.

Before the Giants, Redskin and Cowboy fans weigh in and tell me in the comments section that the Eagles are awful, that the Eagles will come in fourth in their division, that the Eagles have no running game, no receivers and questions at linebacker, let's put partisanship aside and applaud Vince Papale's story for what it was and remains to this day -- a story about a guy who took a shot -- a long shot -- believed in himself -- and made it. That's the type of story that all of us can relate to and most of us need from time to time, regardless of the uniform the guy is wearing.

Go see Invincible -- you won't be disappointed.


Blogger Gus said...

Just saw the movie and loved it. Thanks for the recommendation. Also, nice blog SportsProf...I've got it bookmarked.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it true his first wife left him because he was boffing one of the students he taught? Doesn't sound like a very nice man to me.

3:18 AM  

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