Eagles job was too perfect for Gamble to turn down
February 20, 2013, 1:30 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- For Tom Gamble to pack up and leave behind his stable and well-entrenched executive position for one of the NFL’s most storied franchises and bolt from one of America’s most charming cities, the opportunity needed to be more than about money, power and comfort.
It needed to be perfect.
It needed to be, as Gamble explained Wednesday, the right blend of homegrown appeal and football paradise that even the San Francisco 49ers couldn't have offered him. Only the Eagles could.
“I grew up here, I’m from here, I worked here, love this team, love this franchise, love the city,” Gamble, the team’s new vice president of pro personnel, said. “It was a big deal for me to get back this way. Thirty other opportunities I wasn’t interested in. Philly called and I was interested.”
One year after toying with the idea of leaving the 49ers to work alongside general manager Howie Roseman, Gamble made the decision to return to the place that served as the foundation for his impressive 25-year career as an NFL administrator.
His father, Harry, was the Eagles’ president during the Buddy Ryan days. Tom’s own career started at Veterans Stadium, as an assistant in the personnel department in 1988. Two former Eagles coaches -- Ryan and Jeff Fisher -- were his biggest influences as he worked his way up the scouting ladder, which included a stop in Indianapolis to work for Bill Polian.
“Just being around my father from a global perspective, that has been a huge influence,” Gamble said. “Buddy Ryan was as good as it gets as far as evaluating players. Spent a lot of time sitting with him. Had a ton of respect. Consider him a mentor from that standpoint.
“Some great people on the staff. As you remember, we didn’t even have a pro department [in 1988], so did a lot of work on the phone, put a pro department together. Started out in the office in college administration. Only had three scouts. Be the fourth guy.
“King Hill, Lou Blumling, Joe Woolley, John Wooten, all those guys were fantastic. Everybody you come across you learn from, especially when you’re a young guy. You keep your mouth shut and take it all in. Great guys, great experience, great coaches. That’s what this business is all about. It’s about relationships and keeping up with people.”
Twenty-five years and five stops later, Gamble is back where it started. The combination of business opportunity and proximity to his aging parents, Harry and Joan, longtime residents of Haddonfield, N.J., beckoned his call.
He and the rest of the Eagles coaches and scouts will be in Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine. At this time last month, Gamble was hoping the fruits of his labor would result in the 49ers winning their first Super Bowl title since 1994. Now, he’s in charge of helping the Eagles return to prominence and continue their quest for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
“I wasn’t looking to go anywhere,” he said. “I was in a great situation with great ownership, a great head coach and general manager, but it’s Philly and that’s as good as it gets in this business. That means something to me. I didn’t know when it would come up again and I was ecstatic to come back.”
Gamble will serve as Roseman’s right-hand man, the official voice of scouting that faded when former personnel chief Ryan Grigson left last January to become general manager of the Colts.
The partnership makes complete and total sense for the Eagles, who had lost their once-savvy touch in free agent acquisitions and drafting and have gone consecutive seasons without a winning record.
From the 49ers’ standpoint, it seemed unconventional and inopportune. Teams usually don’t let top front office honchos fly the coop in February, right before the NFL Scouting Combine and in the midst of an intense three-month period of college scouting and roster shaping.
“I think a lot of this business is individuals and people and relationships. They didn’t have to let me visit with Philadelphia,” Gamble said, “If people respect you, you have dialogue, you have conversation, and I’ve been denied a bunch in this business a lot of different positions and a lot of different things.
“Not a great time of year, no question, but because of my relationships there, [general manager] Trent Baalke, and the head coach, ownership, for them to allow that for a lot of different reasons, we were able to come to an agreement and we were able to talk to them.
“We visited for a couple days. I wasn’t looking to leave. Had a great situation. Loved it there. But this is a little bit something different when you have a chance to come back home. I applaud the 49ers for allowing me to do it. It’s unusual, tough time of year, but they were nice enough to allow me to do it.”
Gamble might not have been seeking another job, but other teams sought him. He was a hot commodity on the general manager market and had interviewed with the Jaguars before cancelling a follow-up. He also had interviews set up with the Jets and Chargers.
Also strange about the bicoastal jump from the Golden State to Philadelphia is the seemingly lateral move instead of an upward one. Gamble said he still intends to be a general manager down the road but possibly prolonged that mission by leaving behind a Super Bowl runner-up for a franchise in crossroads.
“I don’t think any of this is about me at all, to be honest with you,” he said, adding that he would “mesh where I’ve been, who I’ve worked for and bring it here. [It's a] talented group. I spent a couple days in the building. Have a lot of respect for Howie. I think they’re as good as it gets. [Being a general manager] will all play itself out.”
Gamble was asked about the Eagles’ current roster and his input so far in molding back into a championship contender but he respectfully deferred to Roseman for those types of inquiries.
He said he hoped that Roseman viewed him as a go-to guy who would have significant say in personnel matters and that his addition would lighten the load of Roseman’s growing responsibilities.
Gamble and Roseman had met on a few occasions and spoke on the phone for five straight days last year, when talks ensued about filling Grigson’s vacancy.
“We were always friendly, always got along, had a ton of respect for each other, and then when Ryan Grigson left to go to the Colts, they were looking for a guy, and the timing wasn’t right,” Gamble said. “But we spent a lot of time -- could have been an hour conversation ended up being five days on the phone. Significant amount of time talking players, talking philosophy.
“I like his vision, I love his passion. He loves this city, he loves this football team, and all he wants to do is win, and all I want to do is try to help in any way I can. I have no agenda. In his job and all his duties and responsibilities he covers, I would hope from college to pro, anything on our end, I would hope I can whittle down his list so he can do everything else. I’m excited about it. Really am. Think we’re going to get along great and work fantastic together.”
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 reply to this topic
Posted 20 February 2013 - 03:57 PM
Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:28 PM
I like the fact that he knows how to pick players consistently UNLIKE Andy Reid and his speedball philosophy. I like this hire a lot and think long term it will pay off handsomely.