Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Oldest Rookie

[photo caption] The most unlikely Philadelphia Eagle of All-Time: Vince Papale. (photo courtesy Mark's Signing Bonus)

In 1976, then-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil held a private workout session for a little-known wide receiver playing for a local second-rate professional team.

Soon after, 30 year-old Vince Papale, most recently employed as a bartender and substitute teacher, was invited to the NFL team's training camp as a special teams player.

Against incredible odds, Papale -- who had never played college football and played only one year of high school ball -- made the team in 1976.

And again in 1977 (the same year he caught his only NFL pass).

And again in 1978.

Eventually Coach Vermeil, through his trademark tears, released Papale in 1978. Not before Papale, however, had become the oldest (non-kicker) rookie in NFL history and a beacon of hope for weekend warriors everywhere.

This week, Papale's name is once again being publicized, albeit thirty years after his incredible story began. Papale's story has become a Hollywood film, "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg as Papale himself. The film will be released nationwide on Friday, August 25.

The Fog of Work has been privately following the production of this film for some time and with some curiosity. Papale's story had come to my attention a while back and, when I had heard that a film was going to be made about his experience, my interest was heightened.

Then, however, I found out that the same people who had produced "The Rookie" were producing this film, as well. "The Rookie" -- with a very similar story arch to "Invincible" -- was garbage. Therefore, I'm not holding out much hope for Papale's story on the big screen.

But no matter how bad the big screen version of his story is, Papale will always have the advantage of having lived it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

similarly, i've been following the progress of "snake on a plane".


Wed Aug 02, 11:27:00 AM 2006


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