As we head into the 10th year anniversary of the movie The 2 most often asked questions Vince gets about the movie are: “How true is the movie?” and “Is your wife Janet still a Giants fan?” Well … when he speaks he has this segment called Real Vs Reel and has a great deal of fun with this. First off the movie “Invincible” is not a documentary and secondly his love interest in the movie, his wife of 22 years, Janet, never was and never will be a Giants fan! The key here is that Disney and the producers captured the journey, and if anything, Vince’s quest to make the team of his dreams was much more difficult than depicted in the movie!
The original script written by Brad Gann portrayed Janet, as she really was, a world-class gymnast just having returned back to the States from a trip to South Africa where she was coaching and mentoring future South African Olympic Gymnastic coaches and athletes. Prior to that Janet was on the USA World Gymnastics Team from 1970 to 1973 and missed the Munich Olympics due to an ankle injury. A devastating knee injury ended her illustrious career but she re-invented herself as a diver and set all of Penn States Diving records at the time. You can see Janet’s complete bio and her amazing story in the “Janet” tab on this site.
It was really crucial for us to get the NFL’s endorsement for the movie so the NFL suggested that we make Vince’s love interest a Giants fan and the bartender thing was thrown in adding humor and conflict to the story. All involved were okay with it, especially Janet, and a few other minor changes were made that didn't affect the real story and they got the NFL’s authorization. Elizabeth Banks was the perfect choice to play Janet, as what you saw with her in the movie is what you get with Janet. The great irony of Elizabeth playing Janet is that Disney filmed a lot of the football scenes at Franklin Field, University Penn Stadium, and Elizabeth graduated form Penn. And, Janet was Head Gymnastics there for 11 years.
YES! Vince was 30 a year old NFL rookie and did not play college football. On Father’s Day in 1964 he was awarded a full Track Scholarship to St. Joseph’s College … and they didn’t have a football team. Prior to that he went to Interboro High School, which is about 6 miles south from the Philly Border. As a “Buccaneer” Vince earned varsity letters in football, basketball & track … all in his senior year. Track was the sport where he excelled as a pole- vaulter and that got him a full ride to “Hawk Hill.” He was always told he was too small to play high school football although he was the fastest kid at Interboro!
After his grad from St. Joe’s in 1968, with a business degree, Vince went back to his alma mater, Interboro, and taught and coached there for 6 years. A lot of students came to him for advice so he started working on his master’s degree in Secondary Counseling at West Chester State Teachers College and he figured he retire after a career in Education. However, football was Vince’s love and passion and the Eagles were his team. So, he played in rough touch leagues, one team being Max’s as in the movie, to cure his addiction to football. Vince had a run at the Olympic Trials in the Decathlon (another story) and got a year and a half in the World Football (1975-1975) League when the opportunity of his lifetime came. A free agent tryout with the Eagles!
At the time in 1976, when Dick Vermeil announced all-comers are welcome, Vince was working as a part time bartender, nightclub doorman, and substitute teacher as he was on a leave of absence from teaching at Interboro. That’s where the movie picked up the story. He did not get an invitation to the tryout from Dick Vermeil, as Wikipedia suggests, and got 4 credited years with the Eagles earning his NFL pension and the getting the ultimate Last Laugh. Some other notes on the movie: yes, Mark Wahlberg and Vince have remained friends. Max’s bar was real as were his 3 amigos, one of which was a downer. And, Janet & Vince met in ’76 but didn't get married until 1993. He will always be grateful to 2 great coaches in his life. George Corner (Interboro) & Dick Vermeil (Eagles) as well the values instilled by his parents Almira & Kingie.
If you want the entire Real Story you can go to the “Invincible Store” tab on this web site and you’ll find: INVINCIBLE: My Journey From Fan to Team Captain.
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Vince gladly accepts autograph requests for personal items. To have him sign a personal item, send the item w/self paid return postage to:
Vince Papale Promotions
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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