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.
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