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Lost & Found
Ben Reiter
July 03, 2006
NOT EVERY RETIRED JOCK IS PLAYING GOLF. THESE FORMER STARS ARE HARD AT WORK IN NEW CAREERS OR CHASING THEIR DREAMS. ONE EVEN WENT HOLLYWOOD
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July 03, 2006

Lost & Found

NOT EVERY RETIRED JOCK IS PLAYING GOLF. THESE FORMER STARS ARE HARD AT WORK IN NEW CAREERS OR CHASING THEIR DREAMS. ONE EVEN WENT HOLLYWOOD

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VINCE PAPALE is a storyteller, so his position as an account executive and director of special projects for student-loan outfit Sallie Mae lets him relate his own history to young people looking to get ahead. It goes something like this: Scrappy kid from the Philadelphia projects overcomes long odds/naysayers/physical limitations to hit it big in sports. (It's a popular theme in Philly, one that earned another Italian underdog an Oscar.) Our hero, who tends bar and substitute teaches while working on a Master's degree, goes to an Eagles tryout in 1976, at age 30, and makes the club as a kamikaze special-teamer and sometime wide receiver. He lasts three NFL seasons before injuries bring his fantasy to an end. If his story were made into a movie, it might be called Invincible.

In fact, it is. Disney's Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg, hits theaters on Aug. 25. But for all the film gets right ( Wahlberg nails Papale's three-point receiver's stance and Boogie Nights coif), it leaves out the epilogue. Papale's playing career ended quietly when he separated both shoulders. After a gig as a Philadelphia sports reporter Papale served as director of fitness at U.S. Healthcare, where he met Janet Cantwell, a former gymnast who became his third wife. In 1999 it was on to Sallie Mae.

One more twist in Papale's story: In 2001 he learned he had colon cancer, and doctors removed 18 inches of his colon. "It didn't take me long to stop feeling sorry for myself," he says. "Two days [after the surgery] I walked about two miles." As if that weren't enough to cheer about, the next year he received a call inquiring about the movie rights to his life. He won't reveal specifics of the deal but says it netted him "significantly more than I made with the Eagles, that's for sure."

Papale, 60, lives in Cherry Hill, N.J., with Janet and their children, Gabriella, 12, and Vincent, 9. He plans to take the whole family to the premiere of Invincible in August. "That might be a long limo ride though," he says with a laugh. "I hear they're having it in Hollywood."

A Flurry of PUNCH LINES

When members of the greatest U.S. Olympic boxing team reunited, the jabbing was all in good fun

THE 1976 U.S. Olympic boxing team was still mixing it up last week. The squad that won seven medals, including five golds, at the Montreal Games was about to be honored as the finest Olympic boxing team ever assembled, and on the bus ride from their hotel to the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., the fighters were throwing jabs at one another.

"Leo Randolph, don't talk with your mouth open," said Charles Mooney.

"And don't look at me if you see me," added Howard Davis.

Soon Randolph and Davis were reciting Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first?" bit, and the mischievous Leon Spinks was flooring his old pals by asking them to behave. "You see," said Sugar Ray Leonard, "nothing has changed."

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