Former Eagles personnel assistant Gamble finds success with 49ers

Posted: January 21, 2012

The Norman Braman-Harry Gamble tenure of owning and running the Eagles will be remembered for many things, but their failure to reach a Super Bowl despite some talent-laden teams could be the most infamous.

Now they have a chance to get there - at least by proxy - with Gamble's son and Braman's surrogate son one win away from having the team he helped build in the Super Bowl.

Tom Gamble is director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers. While constructing an NFL roster is often a group effort, Gamble has been credited with picking many of the 49ers - including former Eagles kicker David Akers - who will face the New York Giants Sunday in the NFC championship game.

Gamble, a 48-year-old Haddonfield native, got his start right here in Philadelphia with the Eagles.

"I've never been to a Super Bowl," said Harry Gamble, a former Eagles president. "I always said I wanted to go with a team I was working for. . . . But now that we have a team involved, I'll go."

Braman said he never missed attending a Super Bowl when he owned the Eagles from 1985 to '94. He said he won't travel to Indianapolis for the festivities if the 49ers beat New York, but there was a certain pride in Braman's voice when he spoke of "Tommy" Gamble.

Braman, who lives in Miami, gave Gamble his first job in the NFL as an assistant in the Eagles' personnel department. They still talk weekly, and Braman said he hasn't missed watching the 49ers - the team he said he now follows - this entire season.

So was it difficult, Braman was asked, to pick a side when the 49ers faced the Eagles in September?

"Not at all," Braman, 79, said by phone Friday. "I rooted for the San Francisco 49ers because of the relationship I have with Tommy and the Gambles. Relationships are everything."

Braman and Harry Gamble said they were still fans of the Eagles.

Braman said he wrote to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie before the start of every season wishing him luck.

And Braman and Gamble, who were often under siege in Philadelphia for the way they ran the Eagles for a decade, remain close.

"I think Tommy is an apple that has fallen close to the tree," Braman said.

Tom Gamble declined to be interviewed for this story because he said he was focusing on Sunday's game.

A two-sport star (football and baseball) at Haddonfield High in the 1980s, Tom Gamble got his start in the NFL in 1988. He filled various roles working for his father, but his eye for talent was apparent early on.

"I didn't hire Tommy because he was the son of Harry Gamble," Braman said. "I hired him because of what he recognized in terms of talent. . . . And now you can see. His record speaks for itself."

Gamble left the Eagles in 1994 and worked for the Jets, Panthers, Ravens, and Colts before landing in San Francisco in 2004. After Jim Harbaugh was named San Francisco's head coach last offseason, Trent Baalke was promoted as general manager, and Gamble took his spot.

Many say it's only a matter of time before Gamble becomes a GM or heads a front office like his father once did.

"We talk, but I give no advice," said Harry Gamble, 80. "I'm not in a position to. I can tell him how it was, and he can take that for what it's worth. But he's his own man."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.


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