NFL legend spotlights EPC tailgate event
The EPC tailgate event in October at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey features Philadelphia Eagles NFL legend Vince Papale, who inspired the Disney movie, "Invincible." ( Amy Sowder )

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mark Wahlberg played him in the movie, “Invincible.” Nobody got past the fan-turned-wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, catching 11 passes for 185 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns in his NFL career.

But Vince Papale was all Vince Papale in his keynote talk at the October Eastern Produce Council’s Third Annual Tailgate Event Oct. 2 at MetLife Stadium, as he made connections between overcoming his challenges in football and what professionals in the produce industry face.

“We’ve all had crazy dreams, haven’t we? If you did the unthinkable, that’s your story,” Papale told the crowd. “Everybody here busted their butts to get where they are today, used sweat equity.”

EPC president Marianne Santo introduced representatives from the evening’s sponsors, Stacey Miller, Litehouse Inc. director of marketing, and Seth Pemsler, Idaho Potato Commission retail vice president.

Miller said Litehouse had just earned the No. 1 ranking salad dressing brand in the U.S.

“In the last five years, we’ve made a good footprint here in the Northeast. We purchased a plant in Virginia, which will help us with distribution and is really helping us focus our efforts on growing our business here,” said Miller, who introduced Papale.

Papale had no football experience besides one year in high school and was 30 years old when he attended the open tryouts for the Eagles, his home team where he’d often cheered from the stands. He was the son of a pig farmer and athletic mother. He recalled eating Idaho potato salad sandwiches as a child.

Papale met a lot of resistance when he made the team. When introducing something innovative, handle the pushback the same way he did, Papale suggested.

“Beware of dreamkillers: intimidation, resentment, insecurity, jealousy,” Papale said. “Dreams are not lived on the sidelines.”

Remember personal motivations such as family, health, competition and respect, he said.

And as clichéd as it sounds, a teamwork mentality is critical to accomplishing a dream.

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