Rocky and Papale: Phily Honors Two Comeback Heroes

The comeback kids will have their day as two great sports stories – both tied to Philadelphia – are reborn 30 years later. The city will celebrate the opening of the film, Invincible, on August 25 and honor Philly-born Vince Papale, whose story as an unlikely walk-on to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 inspired the new movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear. Two weeks later, the city will honor Rocky, 30 years after Sylvester Stallone’s famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Rocky Balboa in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film.

Some of the Balboa/Papale connections are obvious; some not so obvious. All are fun. Papale was called Rocky when playing with the Eagles football team from 1976-1979. The film, Rocky, debuted in 1976, the same year Papale earned a spot on the Eagles. Rocky Balboa fought Apollo Creed on the nation’s Bicentennial, July 4, 1976, when the Liberty Bell historically rang; Papale played with the Philadelphia Bell, a World Football League team.

More details on celebrations for both men will be forthcoming. Here’s a preview of what’s in the works:

Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street will declare August 25 Vince Papale Day, which the Philadelphia Eagles will recognize during their pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field on the same day. In addition, a Vince Papale itinerary that points visitors to some of the sports legend’s favorite neighborhoods and places to go will appear on www.gophila.com.

Philly Loves Rocky Week runs September 6-9, 2006. Early plans include the dedication of the Rocky statue with a scheduled appearance by Sylvester Stallone, a boxing exhibition and a Rocky/Adrian look-alike contest in LOVE Park and the Hero Thrill Show at the Wachovia Spectrum, also featuring Sylvester Stallone.

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