Tom Gamble gladly returns home for job with Eagles
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 2:01 AM
When the Eagles announced last week that Tom Gamble was leaving the San Francisco 49ers to become their vice president of player personnel, the obvious question was: Why?
Why would Gamble take a job that was in essence a lateral move? Why would he leave a team that was 5 yards from winning a Super Bowl for one that is seemingly as far away from a claiming a title as ever?
Because, as Gamble put it Tuesday, it was the Eagles, and it was home.
"I grew up here, I'm from here, I worked here, love this team, love this franchise, love the city," the 50-year-old Gamble said during a conference call with reporters. "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."
It was actually the second time within a year that Howie Roseman called, looking to lure Gamble back to the organization that gave him his start. The Eagles' general manager phoned the 49ers last year after the draft and offered the spot that was left vacant when Ryan Grigson left to become the Colts' GM in January.
The timing wasn't right. But Gamble had always wanted to return to the East Coast to be close to his aging parents - former Eagles president Harry Gamble and his wife, Joan, who live in Haddonfield.
Gamble would have been relatively close to his parents in South Jersey had he gotten the general manager's job with the New York Jets, which he interviewed for this offseason. He also met with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers, but didn't get those jobs either.
Roseman called again after the Super Bowl, and the 49ers granted the Eagles permission to talk with Gamble even though they risked losing one of their top personnel men just before the scouting combine. This time, Gamble was as good as gone.
"We visited for a couple days," he said. "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."
Gamble will be in Indianapolis for the combine this week with Roseman, head coach Chip Kelly, and the rest of the Eagles contingent. He will be Roseman's right-hand man and will assist in evaluating both pro and college players.
Gamble stayed away from answering specific questions about the Eagles' roster and how far he thinks the team is from contending. He was also vague about his draft philosophy but said he would use all he learned at previous stops to help Roseman "whittle down his list."
Gamble will lessen the load of the 37-year-old GM. He has worked in the NFL since 1988, when his father hired him as an administrator in the Eagles' personnel department. He eventually became the college scouting coordinator before leaving in 1994.
Gamble said he remembered when the Eagles didn't even have a pro personnel department. He cited his father, of course, as a mentor, but also singled out former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan.
"Buddy Ryan was as good as it gets as far as evaluating players," Gamble said. "Spent a lot of time sitting with him. Had a ton of respect. Consider him a mentor from that standpoint."
Gamble eventually became a scout for the Baltimore Ravens and then the Indianapolis Colts, where he worked under GM Bill Polian for eight years. He left for San Francisco in 2007 and was named director of player personnel in 2011.
The 49ers experienced a significant turnaround when head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired two years ago, but the drafts and free-agent pickups by general manager Trent Baalke and Gamble provided the coach with great talent.
Roseman and Kelly wanted someone with vast NFL experience, and Gamble said he wanted to help the Eagles achieve something the franchise has yet to accomplish: winning a Super Bowl.
"I've got no angles, I've got no agenda," Gamble said. "All I want to do is be a part of a winner and would like nothing else than to do my part."
Contact Jeff McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.
Inquirer Staff Writer
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Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:34 AM