One Republican and two Democrats have filed to run in New Jersey's Second District primary, and two Republicans and three Democrats in New Jersey's Third District.
"The GOP in a lot of cases hasn't proved to people they care about people. I'll tell you one thing about me: I care about people," Cobb said.
Camden County GOP Chairman Thomas Booth called Cobb, who has never run for office, a needed change for the area.
"There will be no strings attached to our candidate," Booth said. "He is not the anointed one. He is not being handed a crown by the party bosses in Camden County; he's standing up to those bosses."
Flanked by his wife, Gwendolyn, and two of his three children, Garry and Allie, Cobb said he looked forward to a tough race against State Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden), who is backed by the county party.
"I want to debate him. I want to talk to him about the issues. I want to go face to face with him to see who is going to be best to lead this South Jersey area. I'm not really intimidated by the machine. I'm about people," he said.
The anti-party-establishment platform is a common theme in the First District, where Cobb has three challengers: Claire Gustafson, a former Collingswood school board member and past candidate for borough commissioner; Gerard McManus, a real estate agent, of Berlin; and Lee Lucas, a Gibbstown resident who made an unsuccessful run in the 2010 First District primary.
For the Democrats, in addition to Norcross, Frank Minor, mayor of Logan Township, has filed to run, as has Afghanistan war veteran Frank Broomell Jr. of Sicklerville.
Cobb, 57, of Cherry Hill, spent six years with the Detroit Lions before being traded to the Eagles in 1985. Before that, he attended the University of Southern California, where he played on two Rose Bowl championship teams and one national championship squad.
He has been on WIP since 1991, but said he would take a leave from the job to campaign and do some volunteer work with at-risk youth in Camden, similar to work he has done in Philadelphia, for which he was honored in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
Both parties also have contested primary races in the Third Congressional District, which includes parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties. Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican, decided against seeking reelection in November, triggering a race that is expected to be hard-fought as Democrats attempt to win more seats in Congress and Republicans aim to keep control.
The candidate endorsed by the Democratic organizations in both counties is Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder and a former Edgewater Park councilwoman. Belgard, a lawyer, will be opposed by Howard Kleinhendler, a lawyer from Lakewood, who ran in 2010 for Congress in the Fourth District against incumbent Chris Smith, and Bruce Todd, a Waretown resident, who ran in the gubernatorial primary last year and whose slogan shows his support for the Glass-Steagall banking-reform act and nuclear power.
The Republican Party committees in both counties are supporting former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur, a former insurance company executive from Toms River. He is being challenged by Steve Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor and conservative who ran for U.S. Senate last year against Cory Booker, and previously for governor. He now lives in Lavallette.
In the Second Congressional District, New Jersey's most-southern region - encompassing all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties - incumbent Frank LoBiondo will face Mike Assad of Atlantic City in the Republican primary.
Democrat William Hughes Jr., the son of Democrat William J. Hughes, who preceded LoBiondo and served in the House for 20 years before retiring in 1995, will run against David H. Cole of Sewell.
Inquirer staff writers Jan Hefler and Jacqueline L. Urgo contributed to this article.