Vince Papale

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Vince Papale
Vince Papale January 2009.jpg
No. 83
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1946-02-09) February 9, 1946 (age 75)
Glenolden, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school:Interboro (Prospect Park, PA)
College:Saint Joseph's (PA)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:15
Fumble recoveries:2
Player stats at

Vincent Papale (born February 9, 1946) is a former American football wide receiver. He played three seasons[1] with the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League, primarily on special teams, following two seasons with the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League. Papale's story was the inspiration behind the 2006 film Invincible.

High school years[edit]

Papale was born in Glenolden, Pennsylvania, attended Interboro High School in Prospect Park and lettered in football, basketball, and track and field. In his only year of varsity football, Papale won All-Delaware County Honorable Mention honors. In track, he was a standout pole vaulter, triple jumper, and long jumper. He began competing in track during his senior year at Interboro. He won the District I (Philadelphia suburban area) large-schools championship in pole vault, then finished fourth in the state meet. Papale's best pole vault that year was 12 ft 9 in (3.886 m), which edged him into the top 10 all-time PA high school vaulters.[1]


Papale attended Philadelphia's Saint Joseph's University on a track scholarship (the university did not have a football team). As a junior, he won a United States Track & Field Federation (USTFF) college development pole vault at Madison Square Garden (February 10) with a vault of 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m). He never placed at IC4A or Penn Relays. Papale did score in the Middle Atlantic Conference championships (University Division, which included La Salle University, Temple University, Lehigh University, Lafayette College, University of Delaware, Bucknell, Gettysburg College, American University, West Chester University). He graduated in 1968 with an MS degree in Marketing/Management Science.

Track and field personal bests and meet results[edit]

Sophomore Year (1966)
Second in Pole Vault (winner 14'-3" (4.34 m))
Second in the triple jump (winner 45'-3" (13.79 m))
Junior Year (1967)
Senior Year (1968)
Third in the pole vault (winner Peter Chiniese 15'-1¾" (4.616 m))
First in the long jump (22'-1¼" (6.737 m))
First in the triple jump (46'-6" (14.17 m))

Professional career[edit]

Flag football League[edit]

Vince Papale's post-collegiate football career began with the Aston Green Knights of the semi-pro Seaboard Football League. At that time, Papale was a teacher at Interboro High School and was coaching the junior varsity football team when he successfully tried out for the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League as a wide receiver. In an ESPN documentary, Papale claimed he lied about his age to join the team (claiming to be 24 years old, when in fact he was 28 at the time.) In his first season with the Bell, Papale caught nine passes for 121 yards, averaging 13.4 yards per catch including catching the first pass in the history of the new league. In 1975 Papale caught only one pass, but it was for a forty-nine yard touchdown. In both seasons with the team, Papale was a special teams standout.

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

His performance with the Philadelphia Bell earned him a meeting in 1976 with head coach Dick Vermeil of the Philadelphia Eagles after general manager Jim Murray got him an invitation to a private workout held by Coach Vermeil.

Papale eventually made the team, thereby becoming, at age 30, the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL to play without the benefit of college football experience (other than kickers). He went on to play wide receiver and special teams for the Eagles from 1976 through 1978. During that time, he played in 41 of 44 regular season games (regular seasons being 14 games in 1976–1977 and 16 games in 1978) recording two fumble recoveries and one 15-yard reception. He was voted Special Teams Captain by his teammates and "Man of the Year" by the Eagles in 1978 for his many charitable activities. A shoulder injury ended his career in 1979.[2] After retiring from the NFL, he worked as a TV and radio broadcaster for eight years, then became a commercial mortgage banker.

Papale, who earned the nickname "Rocky" (after the Sylvester Stallone character) while playing with the Eagles, is the subject of the Disney movie Invincible, with Mark Wahlberg portraying him. In addition, Papale's legend was cited as a factor in the Eagles' signing of construction foreman/tight end Jeff Thomason for 2005's Super Bowl XXXIX.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2001,[4] Papale has recovered from the disease, to become a spokesman encouraging people to get regular check-ups. He has appeared in commercials for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital encouraging others to be tested. Papale is a sought after motivational speaker.

Previously, Papale was the regional director of marketing and senior account executive for higher-education marketing at Sallie Mae. He resides in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, with his wife Janet and two children, Gabriella and Vinny, and remains a diehard Philadelphia Eagles football fan. He is also currently listed as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association. His son Vinny played wide receiver for the University of Delaware Blue Hens and currently is with the Conquerors of The Spring League.[5]


  1. ^ a b Quackenbush, Eric. "The Unembellished Story of Vince Papale". Bleacher Report. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Eagles' Papale Will Retire". Reading Eagle. August 3, 1979. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  3. ^ "Thomason Is Now A National Story – Philadelphia Eagles". Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2006.
  4. ^ "Thomas Jefferson University Hospital – At Jefferson HealthCARE-Voorhees: Meet Vince Papale, former Philadelphia Eagle, and his colon cancer specialists from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital". Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2006.
  5. ^ "University of Delaware 2018 football team roster". Retrieved September 23, 2018.

External links[edit]