Paper Lion

Paper Lion Information

Paper Lion is a 1968 comedy film starring Alan Alda as writer George Plimpton, based on Plimpton's 1966 nonfiction book of the same title depicting his tryout with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. The movie premiered in Detroit on October 2, 1968 and was released nationwide the week of October 14, 1968.


George Plimpton, a writer for Sports Illustrated, has been indulging in a variety of Walter Mitty-like whims and stunts, trying his hand at being a professional athlete (such as briefly pitching in an exhibition game against All-Star baseball players or boxing a round with Sugar Ray Robinson), then writing about the experience.

During a game of touch football, his editor gets an idea that Plimpton should try going to a professional football team's training camp as a player. A number of teams say no, but the Detroit Lions agree.

Plimpton attempts at first to disguise the fact that he's a total amateur, but soon Lions players can see the truth for themselves. He is unwelcome to some who resent the intrusion, but a star player, Alex Karras, intervenes on his behalf.

In practice, Plimpton demonstrates his ineptitude and gets knocked around. But he's a good sport about it and never complains, which most of his new teammates seem to appreciate. At one point George scores a touchdown in practice and is pleased with himself, until catching the other Lions laughing because they had deliberately let him score.

With a relatively meaningless pre-season exhibition game scheduled against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Lions' head coach, Joe Schmidt, decides to let George play quarterback for one series of downs. The players do their best but so do the opponents"?George is sacked for losses, does very little right and even runs into a goal post, knocking himself cold.

But at least he gets a good story out of it, which he goes back to New York City to write.

Differences from book

There are major differences between the book and movie, mostly attributable to the producers moving the time period up to 1967 (Despite the film's late 1968 release, it's filming feature the 1967 Lions) and not trying to re-create the time period of the book, which is 1963. Joe Schmidt, still an active player in 1963, is now the Lions' head coach. Defensive tackle Alex Karras was serving a suspension from pro football in 1963 for gambling and was not at the training camp. He is one of Plimpton's main supporters in the movie.

In the book, Plimpton only plays in an intra-squad scrimmage, where he loses yardage on five straight plays. In the movie, Plimpton does well in the scrimmage and scores a touchdown, only to realize shortly afterward that the defense did not give it their all and let him score.

The movie does re-create the five plays when Plimpton is permitted to quarterback the Lions at the end of a fictitious pre-season game with the St. Louis Cardinals. There is a scene in the movie where Plimpton meets with Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who informs him that he will not able to attend the Packers training camp. Plimpton never wrote about any meeting with Lombardi, but by 1968 Lombardi was one of the most popular figures in all of sports and it must have made sense to include him in the film.


  • Alan Alda - George Plimpton
  • Lauren Hutton - Kate
  • Joe Schmidt - Himself
  • Alex Karras - Himself
  • John Gordy - Himself
  • Mike Lucci - Himself
  • Sugar Ray Robinson - Himself
  • Pat Studstill - Himself
  • Roger Brown - Himself
  • Frank Gifford - Himself
  • Vince Lombardi - Himself

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Paper_Lion_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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