In a world that loves football almost as much as it loves Hollywood, one man may sum up the enduring connection between the sport and the silver screen.
Consider a bartender, who became a wide receiver, who became an inspiration.
“It’s going through life’s ups and downs and how it all comes together in the end,” says Vince Papale, whose improbable story of becoming an NFL player with the Philadelphia Eagles at age 30 in 1976 was turned into the 2006 movie “Invincible.”
“It’s when the audience understands that at a certain point, we’re not just superheroes or Marvel characters. I was an outlier, trying to break into the establishment. Maybe I was trying to break down a force field, but I can look at that movie now 13 years later and see a character, that happens to be me, who goes deeper than a football player.”
Indeed, the best football films break free of the sports-movie genre and do more than just tackle standard box-office genres of drama or comedy. They examine personal relationships, the lure of competition, the influence of money and the price of power. They mirror society’s concerns about fairness, justice and truth.
They even allow us to suspend our imagination and wonder if a team owner can be reincarnated as a quarterback and lead his team to victory in the Super Bowl.
Here’s our piece for the Sports Business Journal that is included in its NFL at 100 issue for Sept. 2-8, with commentary from Terry Bradshaw, Al Michaels, Andrea Kreamer, Amy Trask, Beth Mowins, producers Mark Ciardi and Mark Ellis and screenwriter Scott Rothman.