Classic Film Guide

Paper Lion (1968)

Alan Alda (in one of his very first films) plays George Plimpton, the real life journalist who made a name for himself by entering & surviving the Detroit Lions football training camp as a quarterback in the early 60's, and then writing about it in his book - Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback.  He actually wrote several articles and/or books about his experiences as an amateur who got to participate in several professional sports (baseball as a pitcher, boxing, hockey as a goalie, and even as a trapeze artist!).  I met Mr. Plimpton at a softball awards ceremony (after giving a speech, he handed us our trophies), shortly after he'd written his Sports Illustrated magazine April Fool's joke about Sidd Finch, the mythical 150+ MPH fastball pitcher who turned up at the Mets Spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I told him we'd won our championship on the back of our Sidd Finch-like pitcher; he seemed an affable fellow.  Lauren Hutton (in her film debut) also stars; several pro football players & coaches appear as themselves including Alex Karras, Joe Schmidt, Lem Barney, Frank Gifford, and Vince Lombardi.  Not a great film, but a curio of the early American (AFL) & National Football League (NFL) days.  Ironically, Karras was suspended by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on his and other teams the same year (1963) that Plimpton participated in the Lions' pre-season.

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