Vince Papale gets public safety crowd ready for game day at APCO

PHILADELPHIA — To football fans everywhere and especially natives of this sports-saturated city, Vince Papale is a hero. But on stage here this morning at the APCO International Annual Conference and Expo, Papale wanted to shine attention on the hundreds of heroes here in attendance.

“Every day you make decisions that help people. You work together as a team,” he said. “People in this room face life and death decisions every day with poise and cool.”

Working as a schoolteacher in 1976 less than 10 miles down the road from here, Papale tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles as a walk-on at 30 years old. After running a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, then coach Dick Vermeil offered him a contract on the spot. Papale went on to become the oldest rookie in the history of the National Football League, playing in the league for four years. The film “Invincible” that was released in August 2006 was based on his story.

Papale mixed motivation with humor, sacrifice and experience in his opening keynote.

“I just played football. I don’t take a 911 call. I don’t save lives,” he said. “What tougher job is there than what you do?”

Papale encouraged the audience to prove the naysayers wrong and achieve the unthinkable. In closing, he offered what he calls the “invincible playbook.”

Those 11 plays for life are:
* Make an impact
* Personality of effort
* Mind-body synergy
* Don’t waste potential
* Visualize the dream
* Define your role
* Play it out with passion
* Weagles not iggles (a play on the Eagles team name, emphasizing we over I)
* Be a good teammate
* Attitude is the key
* Bucket of crabs (similar to what happens when a crab sitting at the top of a bucket of crabs is pulled back in by the others, people will try to pull you back in when you try something different because it validates their failures. “Beware of the bucket of crabs,” he said.)

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