A full-team movie-going trip got the Bucs out of the sun and into the air conditioning Wednesday afternoon
The temperature in Orlando was again near 100 degrees Wednesday afternoon, but the only exposure to the afternoon heat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers experienced was on the short walk from their hotel to the AMC movie theater, where they enjoyed a reprieve from their grueling two-a-day practice schedule.
After five consecutive days of toiling away in extreme temperatures, Head Coach Jon Gruden rewarded his players by canceling practice in favor of an advance screening of the movie "Invincible." The movie, starring Mark Wahlberg, was inspired by the true story of Vincent Papale, a part-time bartender who at age 31 earned a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster in 1976, having played only one year of high school football.
On this day, the running backs were safe from full-team drills, as the only thing getting popped was the corn. Even the grunts were gone, replaced by chuckles, especially for the casting of Greg Kinnear as Eagles Head Coach Dick Vermeil.
"It's always good to get out and do something like this – watch a movie – and build a little team camaraderie," said tight end Anthony Becht. "It was good flick and a good break. It's good motivational movie, and it's got a good story. I enjoyed it."
A native of Pennsylvania, Becht said the portrayal of Eagles fans was right on, even if some other elements were less accurate.
"That down time between practices is something we just don't get," said Becht, referring to the scenes where Wahlberg visited his neighborhood friends and family and also found the time to strike up a romance with leading lady Elizabeth Banks. "There are no date nights – we get a family night, but that doesn't come the first two days of camp, that's for sure."
Twenty-three year-old rookie Davin Joseph said he enjoyed watching an "old school" movie, referring to the reenactments – down to the style of pads and jerseys – of Eagles games from the 1970s, including one against Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys.
"It's a nice alternative to practice," Joseph said. "It's hot outside today, and we got to stay inside in the AC and watch a good movie. I liked it. Thumbs up. It was a football movie. I can't give football movies thumbs down."
As for the scene leading up to Papale's professional debut that showed him throwing up in bathroom beneath Texas Stadium, the big guard didn't go as far as saying he would follow suit this year, but he did acknowledge the excitement that will come with suiting up for his first game.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be nerve-wracking, but it will be exciting."
A theme present throughout the movie was that of playing for the people you represent – a concept Papale used to find motivation and one that Vermeil emphasized in his resurrection of the Philadelphia franchise. It's a theme not lost on wide receiver David Boston.
"Once you sign your name on a contract with the team, you now represent the organization, the coaching staff as well as the city," Boston said. "I think that is the mindset – that you at least have to acknowledge and at least be honest with yourself. It's something that you need to consider strongly. As soon as you sign your name, you are now representing the coaching staff, organization, the team and you should do that in the best way possible."
Echoing that sentiment, Joseph said, "The pride of a team, the pride of a city – I think that is what they represented in that movie, the pride of the Eagles and that city. We've got the same thing in Tampa. The city is proud of the Bucs. We're proud to be in Tampa."