Alum's documentary about 'invincible' Eagles legend premiered on Reelz

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 1976, then 30-year-old substitute teacher and part-time bartender Vince Papale tried out for a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster and made it, fulfilling a dream. His story was turned into a Disney movie starring Mark Wahlberg that was released in 2006.

While the movie did a great job depicting the true story of Papale’s path to the Eagles, one Penn State alumnus and his company set out to tell the full story of Papale and what he meant to the city of Philadelphia.

The WorkShop, a multimedia production company, created a documentary about Papale, directed and produced by alumnus Tommy Caamano. The piece, titled “Invincible: The True Story,” premiered Feb. 3, on Reelz, which reaches nearly 70 million homes in the United States.

“It’s really a biographical piece on Vince and his meaning to the city of Philadelphia, and the story of what really happened and what put him in a position to have a Hollywood movie made about his career,” said Caamano. “He’s just a great guy. Once you get to meet him, his spirit for life is infectious. He’s an example of someone who achieves things in life by working hard.”

As part of the project, Caamano and his team interviewed Papale, Wahlberg and former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, as well as family and friends. The crew also visited Papale’s childhood home, a World War II housing project and a place Papale hadn’t been in 30 years since moving his sick father out of the house.

“To be a spectator and see Vince walk through his childhood home, that makes anybody emotional,” said Caamano. “To see him do that, it was a treat and it was something I’ll never forget. That’s what makes the career that I chose so worth while, that we get to experience those types of events.”

Caamano said there are things people will learn from the documentary that weren’t exactly made known in the original movie. For one, the film uncovers how big of a role Papale’s mother played in his athletic career. In addition, Caamano said Papale making the Eagles’ roster might not have been as big of a long shot as the movie portrayed.

“I think the biggest difference between the movie and reality is that I don’t think there was doubt in people that Vince was going to make the team because he did really well,” said Caamano. “I think people were fairly certain he was going to make the team and he deserved to make the team.”

Caamano, a 2001 film-video graduate, joined The WorkShop in 2007 after serving as a creative director for Comcast Spotlight in Baltimore, Maryland. Following graduation, he started at Silver Cup Studios in New York City as a production assistant and worked with “The Sopranos" and “Sex and the City.”

Since joining The WorkShop, Caamano has done many sports documentaries and sports series. Right now, the group is working on an Amazon series about Novak Djokovic. In the past, Caamano worked on the doc series “The Keystone Connection” on Comcast SportsNet, which featured Penn State alumni Ali Krieger, a soccer player on the U.S. Women’s National Team, and Kerry McCoy, a two-time Olympic wrestler.

While Caamano’s not limited to sports, the genre fits his sports background. Originally from New Jersey, he grew up a fan of the New York Giants — a rival of Papale’s Eagles.

“That’s something I never had the heart to tell Vince,” said Caamano. “Above that, more than a Giants fan, I’m a Vince Papale fan.”

Last Updated February 09, 2017