Vinny Papale will always be linked to his father, and for good reason.
In 1976, Vince Papale signed with the Philadelphia Eagles at the age of 30, becoming the oldest non-kicker to make the NFL without any college experience. He went on to play wide receiver and serve as a special teams captain over the next three seasons.
And remember the 2006 sports film, Invincible? His story served as its inspiration.
But nearly 40 years after his father improbably burst onto the NFL scene, Vinny Papale is determined to carve his own path to becoming a professional athlete. The former Delaware wide receiver has received multiple rookie minicamp invites, including one with the Washington Redskins this weekend at Redskins Park, where he is one of 44 tryout players hoping to impress coaches enough to earn a roster spot.
“I mean, I got to experience a lot of cool things growing up, but at the end of the day, he’s just my dad,” Papale told Redskins.com after Friday's workout. “A lot of guys recognize him as the Invincible guy, but he’s just my dad and my coach. I love having him, he’s my No. 1 fan and it’s awesome.”
Among the advice Papale has received from his father coming into rookie minicamps was to make the most of his limited opportunities, which is something Papale grew accustomed to throughout his time at Delaware.
Papale suffered two season-ending injuries over his career, including a torn ACL in his sophomore season. Following the knee injury, Delaware saw an overhaul in the coaching staff, putting Papale at an even bigger disadvantage.
“That was tough because with the new coaching staff coming in, I blew out my knee and I didn’t play spring ball, so I had limited time to prove myself to them for the upcoming season,” Papale said. “It was a long road, but I made my name in training camp because I wasn’t able to play in spring ball so that was definitely tough.”
However, after spending the first three years of as a reserve wideout, Papale excelled as a starter in his senior season, bringing in 36 catches for 618 yards and six touchdowns.
Now he's on the doorstep of the NFL, hoping a franchise will take a chance on him, just like the Eagles did with his father.