Vince Papale couldn’t say no this offer to be in Las Vegas.
Papale, who gained fame when his improbable journey from high school teacher to being a 30-year-old rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles was made into the movie Invincible, will be the main attraction Saturday during the A Level Playing Field Foundation golf fundraiser at Bear’s Best.
It’s the foundation’s sixth-annual event, where proceeds go toward helping underfunded high school programs in Southern Nevada. Previously, monies have upgraded the weight room and field equipment at Rancho, and provided athletic insurance to football players at Desert Pines.
This year, the goal is paying for transportation for Desert Pines to play in Santa Barbara, Calif., at the end of August, said Susan Spencer, the foundation’s founder.
Spencer, the former Eagles’ general manager and daughter of former owner, Leonard Tose, has known Papale since the mid-1970s when he caught the eye of Eagles coach Dick Vermeil during a free agent tryout.
“Anything for the kids; anything for Susan and her family,” Papale said.
Papale, who was portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the 2006 Disney movie, is often called “Rocky” — the other underdog athlete from Philly. He constantly runs into fans who say they were inspired to achieve after watching the film.
“The other day I was talking to a woman whose husband had his leg blown off in Afghanistan. He was seriously injured,” Papale said. “He would always watch the movie Invincible and she said that inspired him to get a college degree. It’s those kind of stories that are really cool.”
Papale played with the Eagles for three seasons and appeared in 41 games mostly on special teams. He has two career fumble recoveries and one reception. He was a special teams captain and popular in the Philadelphia community for his work with charities.
He hasn’t stopped donating his time and knows a weekend trip to Las Vegas could help area players achieve their football dreams. He hopes to visit with Desert Pines players.
“Those kids (at Desert Pines) have never been out of state for a game, so we are going to help get them a bus and hopefully a good experience,” Spencer said.
Other notables who will golf include former Heisman Trophy winners Mike Rozier and Johnny Rodgers.
Contact Spencer at [email protected] for details on the foundation and tournament.