Invincible star Vince Papale to speak here

Two great sports movies have been filmed in Philadelphia. I hope it’s safe to assume almost everyone old enough to read this column has probably seen the first, Rocky. If you liked the first, I’m confident you’ll love the second, Invincible.

Invincible is the first film since Rocky to capture the spirit of the working class, average “Joe,” making it in the world of sports. The significant and huge difference between the two films is Rocky was fiction, and Invincible is real life.

Invincible opened in theaters across the country on Friday.

This movie is based on the life story of Vince Papale. He was able to realize the fantasy that I’m guessing, at one time or another, all of us sports fans have only dreamed of: taking the leap from a fan in the stands to actually playing in the world of professional sports. What sports fan hasn’t imagined being in that position? For Papale, that dream became a reality in 1971, when he went from a season ticket holder to a member of his beloved Philadelphia Eagles.

Mark Wahlberg does a very credible job playing the down on his luck, part-time teacher/bartender. turned south Philadelphia hero. His performance is equaled by Greg Kinnear who plays the Eagles’ head coach, Dick Vermeil. Even though the two don’t spend a large amount of time in the film interacting on screen, the scenes they do share are exceptional. Their chemistry is especially evident in the bathroom scene on opening day in Philadelphia.

This movie is a must-see for any fan who has ever imagined himself scoring the winning basket, sinking the 30-footer, catching, or throwing the bomb, or hitting the game winner. It’s inspirational to know that even though it’s a huge long shot, sometimes those dreams can come true.

The real-life Vince Papale will be the featured speaker at this year’s Critics’ Choice Dinner, a benefit for the American Lung Association. The dinner will be held in Rockford at Cliffbreakers on Friday, Oct. 27, 2006. Tickets for the event are currently on sale for $75 per person. To make a reservation, or to obtain more information, you may call the American Lung Association at (815) 962-6412.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2006, issue

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