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Vince Papale of Eagles fame now Living Legend


Former Philadelphia Eagles standout Vincent F. Papale received the Living Legend Award on Jan. 17 from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association in a ceremony in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Papale, who turned 78 on Feb. 9, was joined by his wife Janet and their children Vinny and Gabriella at the ceremony that paid tribute to the athlete who inspired the feature film “Invincible.”

Vince Papale enjoys the moment with his wife Janet and their children Vinny and Gabriella at the award ceremony. | FACEBOOK

As a young man, Papale excelled at track and field while attending Interboro High School in Prospect Park, Pa., and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where he won acclaim in pole vault, long jump and triple jump.

He played semi-professional football in the Aston Green Knights of the Seaboard Football League and then the World Football League’s Philadelphia Bell, where he was a standout on special teams.

His performance with the Philadelphia Bell got Papale noticed by former Eagles coach
Dick Vermeil in 1976, and he joined the NFL team at age 30. Papale was the oldest rookie non-kicker in NFL history to play without having played football in college.

He earned a spot on an Eagles roster that included standouts such as quarterback Ron Jaworski, linebacker Bill Bergey, wide receiver Harold Carmichael, running back Wilbert Montgomery, and many others.

With the number “83” stitched onto his kelly-green jersey, the 6-foot-2 athlete was nimble, dynamic and energetic on the field, excelling as a wide receiver and on special teams, and playing in 41 of 44 regular-season games.

He was voted special teams captain by his teammates and Man of the Year by the Eagles in 1978.

In his three seasons with the Eagles before a shoulder injury ended his football career, Papale earned the nickname Rocky for his grit and tenacity. He was the inspiration for the 2006 Disney bio-pic “Invincible,” with Mark Wahlberg in the title role.

With his playing years behind him, Papale worked in broadcasting and later became a commercial banker. The “Invincible” legacy stuck with him, though, so he parlayed the theme into the family’s real estate agency The Papale Group and also into his motivational speeches, which focus on setting goals and defying expectations.

As a Living Legend honoree, Papale joins
Philadelphia heroes such as Wilt Chamberlain,
Tug McGraw and Tommy McDonald.

“It was a night always to be remembered! All I did was chase my wildest dream!” Papale noted on Facebook. “I was even more proud, though, to receive the award with my family there.”

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