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Aug. 25, 2006

Charlottesville, Va. – Former University of Virginia football player Darryl Hammond makes an appearance as former Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver Harold Carmichael in the Disney/NFL film “Invincible” that opens nationwide today.

The film is inspired by the NFL career of Carmichael’s Eagle teammate Vince Papale (1976-78) and stars Mark Wahlberg as Papale, and Greg Kinnear as head coach Dick Vermeil.

The football scenes in the movie were coordinated by Mark Ellis of ReelSports. Many of the players used in the film were active Arena Football League players. For “Invincible,” all of the AFL players in the movie attended a two-week pre-filming training camp run by Ellis. Similar to an actual training camp, the players practiced offense, defense and special teams in preparation for filming.

Hammond retired from the AFL this season after a stellar 16-year career with five different teams. His 16 years in the league is the longest tenure in AFL history. A wide receiver and linebacker with the Nashville Kats this past season, Hammond became the fourth player in league history to catch at least 800 passes. He had a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown against Columbus in the second game of the 2006 season, marking the seventh time in his career he returned an interception for a touchdown.

In 2005, Hammond became just the second player in league history to have 8,000 receiving yards and 30 interceptions in a career. He also became just the third player in the history of the league to surpass 600 career tackles. Hammond was named to the league’s All-Ironman team in 2005. He had 66 receptions for 632 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games for Nashville that season. He was also in on 42.5 tackles.

Hammond lettered as a wide receiver in 1986 and a defensive back in 1987 for UVa after from Ferrum College. He had seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in 1986. In 1987 he was in on 61 tackles, including six for lost yardage, and broke up five passes. He earned honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 1987.

In case you are not familiar with the movie’s story, Papale was the “real-life Rocky.” When Vermeil took over as the Eagles’ head coach, partially as a publicity stunt and partially to send a message to his players, he announced an open tryout at a Philadelphia park. Anyone in town could show up and ostensibly try out for the team. At the time, Papale was a 30-year-old bartender and upper-deck Eagles season ticket-holder who had never played college football. Papale showed up for the tryout, and through an amazing and uplifting set of circumstances, he ultimately earned a spot on the team. He was the club’s special teams ace and played three+ seasons for Philly before retiring at age 35. When the Eagles went to the Super Bowl the year after Papale’s retirement, Vermeil credited Papale (and still does to this day) for reversing the losing attitude that had previously existed in the Eagles’ locker room.

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