Slingin It with QB Velocity #11 with Former Philadelphia Eagles WR Vince Papale

In the final episode of Season 3 of Slingin It with QB Velocity we had the chance to sit down and talk to the great Vince Papale.


Vince played for the Philadelphia Eagles for three years in which he did an incredible job on every side of the ball. His journey to the pros isn’t the normal one with him being a teacher before becoming an NFL player. His journey has been made into a movie called “Invincible” in which he is portrayed by Mark Wahlberg.


In the interview we had a chance to talk to him about the different avenues of his journey, how it was on set, what it is like having a movie made after you, and how it is now seeing his son play the same sport as he did.


Make sure to catch the episode on YouTube, Apple, Spotify and anywhere you listen to your podcasts.


When did you fall in love with the game of football?


“The moment I saw football game so honestly to God. When I was growing up in suburban Philadelphia. The movie has me placed as the Philly guy which is sort of true. I did play that I got four years in, and a pension and we lived in Philly. Matter of fact I'm moving right now and were in a little town called Cherry Hill, NJ were moving and settling down in Florida, but you know the moment I saw a football game I fell in love with it.


We grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood and in a housing project basically, and we're one of the first to have a TV and our Sundays used to revolve around the Eagles games. Believe it or not, we didn’t have Thursday night games or Monday night games for it there was the only game was one o'clock, and you know if you're on the East Coast or West Coast, the only couple teams out there, they were the 49ers and Rams back then.


We didn't have all the others as I don't know 23 or 28 teams in the West Coast now, but as soon as I saw it, as soon as I saw that game, I fell in love with it. And there was this one guy, and we talk about him in the movie's name was Tommy McDonald. I was a little guy. Believe it or not. When I was 14-15 years old, I haven't even hit 5 feet tall, and I haven't even hit 100 pounds.


So, then there was this little guy for the Philadelphia Eagles. Goes by the name of Tommy McDonald and he became my hero. My Idol and I think that when I made the Eagles that we were basically on the same team. Eternity of retired players, and it was so cool, so I just had that love, right, right? Right from the beginning and that's something that I've carried with me.


But my family you know we love the game, but you know we're very close to Coach Pederson, former Coach Pederson and in our course. My son Vinny's playing ball right now in Indianapolis ready to play Thursday night in the spring league.”




What made you run track in college? How did that help with the Eagle and the World League?


“Great question, so here's what happened in high school. I was still pretty tiny, and I never really got to any height. When I was a senior in high school and then it was about 5’7” and 155-160 pounds and my junior high school coach. I played one year in junior high school.


He got in touch with me since I'm coming up coming out for the team. He says, well, I'm a first-year senior, you know. I mean, most schools don't take first year seniors, I want you. So, what he did is he knew I could run. I can catch a football and when we got to weather what we called a training camp for one week training camp with go to the mountains in the Pokeno Mountains in that camp at the end of that camp I was the fastest guy in the team, right? I caught everything thrown at me and the coach actually changed the whole offense to make it a passing offense.


And then somebody saw me playing Semi Pro Football. I had a game out a couple of 300 yards and receptions and four touchdowns and that there was a new League starting called the World Football League back in 1974. So, I got to that they invited me to a free agent tryout and there were 800 guys there and there were 80 wide receivers and of the 80 wide receiver I was the fastest guy in the field. Again, and they gave me a try out.

That said, I got through that try out, next thing and I wound up making the team and was one of their top receiver's and then the league folded after a year and a half. So, I was going to go back and get my teaching job and I go on a leave of absence because there's nothing available for me. So, I started substitute teaching and I started bartending and Dick Vermelle comes in and has a free agent tryout."


What advice would you have for someone going through adversity?


“I just feel so bad cause I talked to so many athletes about this and everything's been all screwed up like look. You know that this the college my son went to University of Delaware. They just won their second playoff game that they were in the spring. I mean at least at least we're flexible enough that you know they have a Spring League, but a lot of the high schools were shut down and you know a lot of this sports word. Shut down and I just feel so bad for those juniors and seniors.


You know, fine if you can. If you feel that just like some sort of a club, League or whatever it is, but you know, for those poor souls and young men and young women that last those scholarship opportunities because of the virus, my heart breaks word because one of them could have been my son. Listen my, I know Vinny. Had a couple of three NFL tryouts set up last March and press the covid, boom they were they were they were wiped out here.

2 Pro Days wiped out the three NFL one CFL. He did wind up signing with the CFL, but they stopped. They postpone the League last year so. The opted out and now he's still in the Spring League where he's in Indie right now, so anybody there as you know, I like my best advice is to just keep hanging in there. You know, grind it out eventually this is going to be over. You know, eventually they were going to allow us to take her masks off, and you know and put into whatever the sport might be in and go ahead and move forward and get everybody back to school.


And that's what we really need to do. We got to get everybody back into the classroom, so hopefully that will happen this fall and things will get back to normal. But sure, the thing with the advice would be just hang in there and stay in shape. You know, just you've got it now. You basically have to go out and start promoting yourself and maybe start making some phone calls. Join a club whatever but that's about the best advice I can give right now but don't quit that's the thing do not quit.”


Did you have a favorite part of the movie?


“Yeah, there's 1 scene that gets me pretty good. It chokes me up. It's right after the Cowboys game and it makes it look in a Cowboys game that I'm on a verge of. Perhaps getting cut. I don't really think that was the case, but that was how I thought. So, what I'm doing is I'm driving through the streets of Philadelphia markets, driving through the streets and in a really tricked out car. To see how they set that car up, that with all the lighting and crap it was really wild.

And then he's driving through. It's called the moment of truth and what it is. It's my reconnections to football as I loved it as a kid and as I'm driving as for join me as I'm driving through the streets or some bunch of kids playing football in the street. A girl with pigtails who is my daughter Gabriella who is 9- 10 years old at the time throws a ball out on the street and my son Vinny, who's now in Indie playing Thursday night on national TV.


My son Vinny's like 6 years old, once out with long blonde hair and he's got a number 83 taped on his back. And Mark looks at it and that was like the reconnection. Then he goes and then he then then Marcus and I go into a store to a rough touch game in the mud and I just love that the way they filmed it and the music it was just spectacular. So cool and how the director is spice it up and cut it was it was wild so they're my two favorite you know and now my kids are 27 and 24 but it was fun.”



How much did you help the movie?


“You know the script. Obviously with the script Brad Gay and my kudos, first executive producer, Ken Mok. Who was the Creative America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks, and he was one. It took the risk, and he spent the money. It's that the writer, script and Brad Gamboa beautiful script. And so, I was certainly part of that. You know, with script writing in the first draft and then I only had business we didn't have. We didn't really have like access.

We didn't have Google then you know you didn't have the access to the Internet when this was all happening back in 2003. And 2004 when we started that when we started the production of the movie. And so, you know, I had a big saying that and then when the movie team was going to go and get shot, they grieve they green lighted. It looks like or green light. Which means now the budgets been accepted so 60 million our budget, which is pretty big for a sports movie. And it was Walt Disney.

And then they had me do a lot of stuff for the wardrobe basically, and then I would take. I would take the cruise round to Philadelphia when it was determined to see the film was going to be shot in Philly, not New York. That they think I would take the crew around the Philadelphia show in certain spots where I used to hang out. Do this and do that, so there's you know a couple of the places that I showed him replaces that they used in the movie.


Other than that, they basically stay the hell out of the way. You know if we see we see you in a frame that we're not supposed to see you in now. That'll cost like $10,000 to shut that scene down. So, they say you stay behind the cameras and stay out of the way and that army once in a while. When I see some garden more wait a minute did with him there. Just shut up. You know we had to make a movie. You know you know how to play football.


Plus, you know, and I they say they say as they say I was breaking my wife chops, but they say, and they say that the relationship that I have with everybody involved with relatively executive producer. With the producers Mark Wahlberg, all the other Co actors and actresses and Elizabeth Banks are not that we've remained friends and we stay in touch, and they say that's rare, never happens and I bust Rudy all the time.

You know, I said, hey look, you know I had Marky Mark from the funky bunch playmate you had flower for crying out loud. Yeah, baby, I mean my mark with his tightly whites. You know, Marcus said he sees the better than she just loves my children. My children love him and he's the greatest and God bless Mark. He just lost his mom and our thoughts and prayers are always with Mark. He was tremendous. Aside from that I was saying yeah, I trained with him for two weeks prior to the shooting in move baby I would run routes and I was in my 50s then I'm running routes and he's you know he would cover me.”



Which part of the movies got Hollywood up?


“Actually, the portrayal of me as a part time bartender to substitute teacher. In reality I was in full time schoolteacher for six years working my master's degree in counseling, head football coach, head track coach, assistant football coach, aspiring to be in Olympic decathlete and I actually did. Qualify my qualifying score for the Olympics trials, but it wasn't a sanction, and I couldn't get into a sanction meet. That's what that's what I got pissed off instead of playing semi–Pro Football.

So, they, you know? But that's OK because they just did go back. You know that. Another problem that the other thing is, is they want a little bit of drama and humor. So, I decided to take my love interest who's played by Elizabeth Banks since my wife now 27 years and the mother of our children Janet, and they decided they're going to make her a Giants fan and reason that happened the way it happened in the original script they had her coming back from South Africa as a gymnast.

What was it like making the Eagles?


“You know keep in mind this was a 14-game season. Now that you NFL fans out there right there? Going with three preseason games now in 17 regular seasons, back then at 76 we had 6 preseason games, six and 14 regular season games. I led the team in receptions. Now I led the team in receptions, never played college football, and I'm leading the team in receptions in the preseason and in touchdowns and touchdown receptions as well.


And if I didn't make the team, I have been really pissed off, you know. But I, you just don't know you know you just don't know. And then you know Coach Vermell comes up and gives me the hey welcome to the team you’re a Philadelphia Eagle that was so cool. So, here's what I did. I saw my God I was going crazy guys so I'm going outside saying oh my God kind of make a phone call. As we make a phone call, so can I call my dad and friends are break made where you got to press conference, I said now I got to call my dad, but I got to hold on I got to make a collect call to Westinghouse.

We were I got ahold of the shop Steward, and he knew that was the last day that they did was last cut and I said just talking his little boys with Philadelphia Eagle and they use that scene. And then they use add that term in the movie. You know your little boys, Philadelphia, eagle King. And you could just hear everybody in the background screaming and yelling. They wanted to put that scene in, but they couldn't do it because it was called a Rudy moment.

Cause if you remember in the movie Rudy, when he got accepted to Notre Dame, that was the same reaction his father had the same background as me, which was cool. I passed through the all the time we're on the road a lot we do. I've been with them four- five times now because of the covid. We do these private autograph sessions, so it's me and Rudy in the same room. Just gone after it. You know, I just love it. As here outside you know you have one tackle. That's a great story too. When I cried my eyes out at the end of Rudy and miracles, my favorite sports movie other than Rocky and Invincible, I have to say Rudy is right up there in the top five. You know, and a lot of them were Disney movies. So cool.”



What was your mentality during your playing days?


“That's a great question, Mike. I've rarely been asked that question and I think so much of it is a mental aspect of it right. I treated every day in practice. Is that if it were the last practice, I would ever have as a Philadelphia eagle, there was no in me. I was a marginal player, man, that's a 45-man roster and I’m the 45th guy on a 45-man roster of if there is the first guy that goes, that's going to go is going to be old number 83, right? And right here.


So, this guy gone. And so, I treated every practice as if it was my last practice ever, and that certainly, you know, with the limited number of games and he privilege, the privilege and honor, not a not a right. It's not a right? It's not a passing, it's a privilege to play the NFL. And I took nothing. Nothing for granted. I know I played games I should never have played because of injuries.


I would just whatever you had to do to get it done. I did it and I never missed a game because of an injury until finally my shoulders and they gave out. I separated this one and dislocated that one in the same game, so it is what it is. You know I went out. I went out flying. You know it's funny cause Ron Jaworski. Yeah, yeah, the boss down there playing Baltimore and he was our quarterback now you see him all the time that I found at work, ESPN and all jealous is the best.


I was actually one of the other nights doing the draft show and he came up to me. I'm always writing a book. I was reading spy novels or crap like that. Nothing to it. Nothing that they get my brain smarter, and he says he's just a man. You ready, he says, you're going to get a lot of passes tonight, I said, man, I'm going to play tonight like it's the last game I've ever played in my life. And guess what? I had four catches in the first half for me and Vermell said you're out Papal I've seen enough, and I said coach one more play please one more play.


And guess what that was the one that tore my shoulder apart. Yeah, and I was glad I pre separated. My right shoulder from surgery, the year before and I didn't tell anybody I should never have been on the field. But I was too stupid. You know because I was battling this kid, Scott Fisk, who was a fifth-round draft pick coming out of Penn State, so you know it is what it is, you go out in flames. That's you know that's what I did it, you know like a comic.


I was going to go out in flames, and I left it all out there. They would ask how do I feel missing out on the Super Bowl, I said tell me 10 guys are on that Super Bowl team, right? And I said but tell me, tell me how many have movies made about him? You know? I just. Not that I'm not an asshole like that, you know. It's not my style, but it you know when they say he didn't like to shoot watch OK, I did OK.

I worked with Wahlberg. So go they just you guys hope you're so young, out of college or coaching, you're doing this. You know you're living the dream. The covid sort of messing stuff little bit, but it's going to be OK. You're healthy. Just have fun guys left the Dreaming and let anybody tell you that you can't do it if you believe in your heart. If you believed in your heart, you could do it. You can do it and then just make it impact life Association. Treat everybody with respect regardless of whatever and you know what the what numbers are. “




What was it like playing for Coach Vermel?


“I have fun with the matter fact was me, Jon, and Vermel at this draft show. He said they're going they're going to get receiver. He's not guarantee. Is everybody saying cornerback like he said we're going to see when they got with Devonta Smith from Alabama, which I'm really excited about. But what's it like to play for him?


It was it was. It was great and I'll tell you why. Because he was a teacher, and he was a coach. He's got Italian blood in him like I do, and it you know he's got his mother Precide and he was a teacher and a coach like me and his philosophy as a coach was my philosophy as a player. I'm going to work. I'm going to work harder than anybody on that I'm going to work. There's nobody on that field is going to work harder than me, and that was just philosophy.

As a coach that he says, well, I got it. I got a ladder to climb. You know, I've got George Allen here. I've got Vince Lombardi is. I'm like in the bottom rung and I'm going to outwork everybody and eventually got to the Super Bowl. So, I thought processes and there was just there was a lot of respect that I didn't realize that he had for me. I know in my background and coming from a mentally mother who went away.

Oh, mother and parents not going getting on my parents like getting beyond eighth grade once he got to know me and there was that closeness in that bond, I'm telling them. He had to cut me one time. He could even talk. He was claim like baby, yes, I was because it was. It was almost like a divorce. You know I was having this tremendous marriage with the NFL with the City of Philadelphia.

But hey man, the guy gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and he worked our tails off and he always talks about you know how the Country Club atmosphere isn't training camp like. They did see why fundamentals were so poor sometimes typing and that kind of stuff because they're just like doing it in training camps without an, the OTA is nobody's going to OTAS now. Everything is cyber, everything is right, virtually.

So, he worked us. He worked this hard and but hey listen they allow me to be captain of the team. He gave me the opportunity lifetime and he gave me a chance to just realize my chip might look like my crazy street. I don't talk to you guys for Dick Vermel or Ron Jaworski. I don't have this house in Florida. I don't have this Disney movie. I love all the beautiful things that have in my life and I'm not saying beautiful things from a from a materialistic perspective. Beautiful things and friendships and respect. You know those kinds of things. It's just the best. So, a lot of the death every time I talk to him the last three words is I love you coach always say I love you coach.”

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