The timing is right for Tom Gamble, for Howie Roseman and for the Eagles, and now Roseman has his man in Gamble to help the franchise move forward.
The 1991 Eagles Media Guide shows head coach Rich Kotite on the cover as the team transitioned away from the Buddy Ryan coaching regime. On page 15, beneath the bio of Joe Woolley, then the team’s Director of Player Personnel, is the bio of Tom Gamble, the Assistant to the Director of Player Personnel.
In his role, the description reads, Gamble “has ascended from his role as an administrative assistant to his present position as the assistant to player personnel director Joe Woolley. Gamble stockpiles information on all players available in the college draft, serves as an area scout, negotiates player contracts and assists in the organization of summer training camp.”
Gamble also, it says later, “has been instrumental in the club’s acquisition of a satellite dish giving the Eagles access to extensive library of videotape on all potential draftees.”
Oh, the times have changed for Gamble, for the Eagles, for the NFL.
He’s here now, gearing up for his 26th NFL season after climbing the ladder in the NFL with the Eagles (through 1994), a coaching stint with the Jets and then back into the personnel side of things with Baltimore, Indianapolis and then the 49ers. Gamble has been through every kind of scenario and in the end, has generally been part of success.
That was certainly the case in San Francisco, where he worked for the last eight seasons, the last two as the director of player personnel. In those two seasons, the 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game in 2011 and then the Super Bowl last season, producing 18 Pro Bowl selections.
The lure of coming back to Philadelphia to be in this vibrant football community, to work with Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly, to live closer to his family (father Harry was the Eagles’ president from 1986-95) and to get back to his football roots was too strong for Gamble to ignore Roseman when he reached out for Gamble again following the 49ers’ Super Bowl appearance.
“It was strong. Very, very strong,” said Gamble on Wednesday. “Just coming from the Super Bowl, where we had in-laws and cousins and all of the family there and seeing my kids around the family, that was great. Then this thing came up and it was huge. You just don’t get a chance to come home that often in this business.
“I’ve had all of these memories come back the last couple of days, seeing Leo Carlin, Joyce Iman, Carol Wilson (all long-time Eagles employees who worked here when Gamble was here previously) and reminiscing about those days and what fun times we had and how things have changed,” said Gamble. “I was in touch with Coach (Dick)Vermeil. I popped him a text and he’s been a great supporter of mine, and so to re-connect with him was great. It’s about people with me and to get back here, it’s awesome.
“I’m sitting here looking across the street and the Vet used to be there. It’s not there anymore. I remember all of the good games, the crowds, the fans going crazy, and for us how dark and cramped it was working there. I come here to this beautiful facility and you get reminded how things change so much over time.”
What hasn’t changed is the challenge Gamble and the Eagles face to rebuild a team that went 4-12 last season and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Gamble sees himself as Roseman’s “right-hand man,” -- his official title is vice president of player personnel -- a role that he loves. He’s not been here long enough to discuss personnel or strategy or tactics, and you likely won’t hear much from Gamble in the public eye again. He is a down-in the-trenches football guy whose mission is to get the Eagles back to the top of the NFL power structure.
“We were looking at film back then, then it went to tape and now it’s all digital and while all of the technology has changed, we’re still all looking for the same thing. We’re looking for good football players who fit what we do,” said Gamble. “You’re eyes are on talent on this roster, you’re comparing what you have and what other clubs … You can’t replace experience. This personnel department has a lot going for it and I’m happy to help any way that Howie and Chip want me to help.
“San Francisco was great. I had a wonderful time there and the organization couldn’t have been better to me. The team is outstanding – 19 of 22 starters coming back, a great young quarterback, 14 draft picks … People ask me, ‘Why are you leaving?’ This is Philadelphia. This is home. The timing is right for me, for this. Good people. Fresh start. Roll ‘em up and get to work. I’m excited about Howie. I’m excited about Chip Kelly. I’m excited about the staff.
“I’m fired up. I’m ready to go. I’m hitting the ground running.”