Former professional American football player Vincent “Vince” Papale spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League (WFL) and three seasons as a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). Papale was raised in a working-class area of south Philadelphia. He was a gifted athlete when he was younger, competing in numerous track and field competitions as well as playing basketball and football. He even received a track scholarship to attend college. He was employed as a teacher at a nearby school at the time of his successful Bell audition. His play with the WFL club in 1976 attracted the attention of former head coach Dick Vermeil. From 1976 to 1978, Papale played on the Eagles’ primary roster before retiring due to an injury. Later, he started working as a commercial mortgage banker after first becoming a radio and television broadcaster. Following his recovery from colon cancer in the early 2000s, Papale agreed to serve as a spokesperson for the cause. He is currently Sallie Mae’s senior account executive for higher education marketing and regional director of marketing. His life’s narrative served as the basis for the 2006 sports drama movie “Invincible.”
Early Childhood & Life
Francis J. Papale and Almira Sage Papale welcomed Vince Papale into the world on February 9, 1946 in Chester, Pennsylvania. Janice is the name of his sister.
He excelled in a variety of sports while attending Interboro High School in Prospect Park, including football, basketball, and track & field. He received the honor of All-Delaware County Honorable Mention during his one season of varsity football.
He competed in the pole vault, triple leap, and long jump events as a track and field athlete. He won the pole vault competition for District I (the Philadelphia suburbs) major schools while competing on behalf of his school. In the subsequent state meet, he finished fourth. His top pole vault height of 12 feet, nine inches, earned him a spot among the “Top 10” PA high school vaulters of all time.
Papale won a track and field scholarship, which allowed him to attend Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He won the top prize in the United States Track & Field Federation (USTFF) college development pole vault competition during his junior year with a leap of 14 feet, six inches.
He failed to place on the podium at the Penn Relays or the IC4A, but he did perform well at the Middle Atlantic Conference championships (University Division). He received his MS in marketing/management science in 1968.
Work and Later Life
Vince Papale began playing for the Aston Green Knights of the Seaboard Football League after completing his college career. From 1968 to 1974, he also taught the business to middle school students at Interboro High School and coached a junior varsity football team.
Papale quit his job as a teacher in the spring of 1974 to try out for the Philadelphia Bell. He was added to their primary roster and played for them for the following two seasons. He caught nine receptions for 121 yards, averaging 13.4 yards per grab, during that season. He only managed to grab one ball in 1975, but it resulted in a 49-yard touchdown. In both of his seasons with the Bell, he was recognized as a “special teams” standout.
Papale worked in a pub once his employment with Bell came to an end. In the bar leagues, he also participated in “rough touch” football. Jim Murray, the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, invited him to a personal training session led by Dick Vermeil during this time.
Papale made his NFL debut with the Eagles at the age of 30, making him the oldest rookie in NFL history without any college-level experience. He participated in 14 games as a wide receiver and 13 games on special teams in 1976, 1977, and 1978, respectively. He recovered two fumbles for the team during his time there, and he also had a 15-yard reception.
His career abruptly ended in 1978 as a result of a shoulder injury. After that, he spent eight years as a radio and television broadcaster before deciding to become a commercial mortgage banker. He is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association in addition to serving as Sallie Mae’s regional director of marketing and senior account executive for higher-education marketing.
Recognition & Achievements
Vince Papale was chosen by his Philadelphia Eagles teammates as the 1978 “Man of the Year” and captain of the special teams. The latter was a result of his noteworthy charitable endeavors.
The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has inducted both Vince and his wife Janet.
Individual Life of Vince Papale
Three marriages have taken place for Vince Papale. He married Sharon, his first wife, before the 1970s. They split up in 1971. In June 1977, he wed Sandy Bianchini, who would become his second wife. The divorce in this marriage was also formalized in 1983.
Years after his retirement, Papale began dating Janet, who is now his wife. She was a member of the US world gymnastics team and an athlete herself. They got married in 1993 and have two kids: a daughter named Gabriella and a son named Vincent Jr. In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the family resides.
Papale received the diagnosis of colorectal cancer in 2001. He battled the illness and recovered fully. He later worked as a spokesperson urging people to get tested for the illness and appeared in ads for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital urging people to get routine checkups.
In Culture Today
In the 2006 film “Invincible,” directed by Ericson Core, Mark Wahlberg and Elizabeth played Vince and Janet, respectively. The movie earned favorable reviews from reviewers and had a mediocre box office performance.
After the movie came out, Papale wrote a biography titled “Invincible: My Journey from Fan to NFL Team Captain,” in which he shared his own take on the events. The book “Be Invincible! A Playbook For Reaching Your Full Potential” was co-written by him and Janet in 2011.
Vince Papale’s Net Worth
Vince Papale has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million. He was a professional American football player. Vince Papale, who was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, excelled in football, basketball, and track & field among other sports. He is among Pennsylvania’s top ten high school pole vaulters in history. In the late 1960s, he received a Marketing/Management Science degree from St. Joseph’s University. He continued to win track and field contests while attending St. Joseph’s, but he did not participate in the football program at the school. After graduating, he started playing football once more, this time for the Aston Green Knights of the semi-pro Seaboard Football League. His strong performance with that club during his tryout for a seat on the Philadelphia Bell in the World Football League led to an offer from the Philadelphia Eagles. Before being forced to retire due to a shoulder injury, he played for the Eagles for two seasons. Based on his life, the film “Invincible,” starring Mark Wahlberg, was created.
The controversial note that stated, “You’ll never go anywhere, never establish a reputation for yourself, and never make any money,” was written by Papale’s first wife, Sharon. Papale retained the memo and used it as inspiration.
He was given the moniker “Rocky” in honor of the renowned Sylvester Stallone movie.