Training camp is a time when longshots get their chance to make it in the NFL.
So it was only fitting that several Green Bay Packers took advantage of the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the Disney movie "Invincible" on their night off Wednesday.
"Invincible," which premieres Aug. 25, is based on the true story of teacher, part-time bartender and Philadelphia Eagles fan Vince Papale. Played by Mark Wahlberg, Papale loses his wife and teaching job and decides one day to show up for an open tryout for his favorite NFL team, even though he hasn't played football since high school.
In a strange twist of fate, he makes the team and also returns a fumble for a touchdown in the Eagles' first home game that season. He goes on to play three-plus seasons as a special teams ace.
Around 20 to 25 players took in the movie at Bay Park Square Mall courtesy of a private team screening arranged by Disney, and some players could relate to Papale's story.
"He was inspirational, especially for some of the guys around the bubble like myself," said punter Jon Ryan, a free agent from the Canadian Football League with a chance to win the punting job with the Packers. "It makes me want to get out there and keep on going. Just the desire and dedication he had to making the team when no one in the world gave him a shot, you can really feed off that and take something away from that."
If anyone's situation resembles Papale's in this training camp, it might be fullback Ben Brown's. Out of football for two years in his early 20s after the birth of his daughter, Brown worked several odd jobs to support his family and got back into the game at tiny Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. Now he's trying to make the Packers' roster as an undrafted free agent and virtual unknown.
"I see what he went through, and it kind of feels like I'm going through the same path," Brown said. "It was great motivation, just knowing that I have to do more than everybody else in the same way he knew.
"There was something else driving him besides his name to want to play football. It was bigger than that."