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Joe Venditti's legacy as the Eagles' 'Official Painting Coach' lives on 

The Eagles celebrated Joe Venditti's legacy by inviting his family to help paint the field Saturday.
The Eagles celebrated Joe Venditti's legacy by inviting his family to help paint the field Saturday.

More than 40 years ago, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Eagles Head Coach Dick Vermeil labeled local artist Joe Venditti as the "Official Painting Coach" of the team.

In 1979, Venditti was working at the Sign Shack, his art store at Oregon Avenue and Percy Street in South Philadelphia, when a man came into the shop with an offer that the artist could not refuse.

Stanley "Bow Wow" Wojtkiewicz, a publicist for the Eagles, asked Venditti if he would be interested in painting for the team.

Venditti started by painting signs around the training facility and doing any small job that the organization needed.

That stemmed into a bigger opportunity for Venditti, who was then asked to design game balls and ultimately paint the field.

"It was so cool," said Danielle Venditti Hurd, Joe's daughter. "It made us feel like we were somebody. I was in grade school at the time, so I felt like a big shot."

Venditti was known for delicately painting commemorative game balls with Kelly Green paint and the vintage Eagles logo.

The Sign Shack owner would paint all the footballs at his shop. Game balls would be given out to players, coaches, and staff members after big games. In 1980, after the Eagles beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, Vermeil ordered 138 game balls, one for every member of the organization – including Joe.

Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie received a game ball from Venditti after purchasing the team in 1994. United States President George H. W. Bush is the owner of one as well.

Joe Venditti
Joe Venditti

Even though he was just a painter, the Eagles made Joe feel like he was a special part of the team. He received a 1980 NFC Championship Ring, traveled on the team plane, went to road games, and watched home games from the sideline.

Safety Andre Waters took a real liking to Venditti and his work. He would frequent Cotardo's Restaurant where Hurd worked, knowing that she worked there. He would talk to her and ask about Venditti. Waters played nine years in Philadelphia and is a member of the 75th Anniversary Team.

"It was very important to him," Hurd said of her father. "He worked extremely hard for the team."

While the footballs were a big hit, Venditti's largest project for the team was painting the logo on the 50-yard line at Veterans Stadium. Venditti created a stencil that helped him trace and paint the logo at midfield.

The stencil that Joe Venditti used to paint the logo on the 50-yard line at Veterans Stadium.
The stencil that Joe Venditti used to paint the logo on the 50-yard line at Veterans Stadium.

Painting the field was much different back then. Everything from the logos to the yard lines was hand-painted. Now, the field is painted utilizing machines and sprayers. So, the stencil made the task easier for Venditti, especially with how large the midfield logo was.

After his work with the Eagles, other Philadelphia sports teams, like the Phillies and Flyers, noticed his talent.

"He was naturally an artist," Hurd said. "It was amazing and fun to watch."

Hurd's favorite memory of her dad was just walking around with him when he was working for the Eagles.

She had the opportunity to watch games on the field, meet with players and coaches, and even help him paint.

"It was an experience and a half," Hurd said. "It was all really fun."

When Venditti passed away in 1996, he passed the infamous stencil down to his daughter. The stencil had been sitting in her basement for the longest time, but she decided to bring it back out when the return of Kelly Green was announced.

Hurd mentioned the fragility of the stencil, noting that where the Eagle is clawing the football is the part that she has to be most careful with.

The Eagles will honor Venditti's family by hosting them on Saturday for a Kelly Green field painting session to prepare for Sunday's game against the Bills.

"He would be very proud," Hurd said. "I know he is beaming up there."

Danielle Venditti Hurd
Danielle Venditti Hurd

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