In 1976 Vince Papale was in his 6th year of teaching at his alma mater, Interboro High School, while he was working on his master’s degree in counseling, and also coaching football and track. As a 10-year season ticket holder for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles, Vince had a dream … to play for the Eagles. 1976 was the same time the USA was celebrating its bi-centennial birthday. It was also a time when Philadelphia fans were buried in 11 years of defeat, when Americans were battling the lingering effects of Watergate, the Vietnam War, and a sweeping energy crisis. Ordinary people appeared badly in need of a champion from their ranks, and this local schoolteacher/coach answered their call.
The Philadelphia Eagles had hired a passionate and idealistic rookie Head Coach, Dick Vermeil, who boldly announced that he wanted to shake up his new team and publicized that he was going to conduct an open tryout for all comers. Ignoring all of the nay sayers and doubters, Vince not only attended the try out, but he was offered a contract on the spot and he got the sweet and ultimate last laugh by making the team.
By re-inventing himself from a 30-year old school teacher, who did not play football in college, to an NFL star, Vince Papale defied the million to one odds against him. Not only did he make the team but he was voted by his teammates Captain of the Special Teams his second year on the team and most recently was selected by the fans as the best Special Teamer in the Eagles 75-year history.
He has received numerous awards around the country for his charitable contributions and efforts including the coveted Vince Lombardi Award for Courage for overcoming his bout with colon cancer. He lends his support to too many charitable organizations to mention, but Vince is very proud to note he has had the American Flag flown in his honor over the United States Capitol and by the troops in Afghanistan, whom he considers his heroes!
He is married to the former Janet Cantwell, who was on the USA World Gymnastics team. They have two children, Gabriella and Vincent. Vince is the subject of the blockbuster Disney movie, Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg, which topped the charts for 2 straight weeks after its release in 2006.
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Now, in today’s fragile economic times, he continues to respond to the need for a motivating hero who knows what it’s like to battle and overcome adversity. Vince and Janet are currently working on their third book, “Born To Be Invincible” and have just been chosen as one of top 5 power couples in the Greater Philadelphia Area.