Haddonfield Finally Has Someone to Root for in the Super Bowl
Tom Gamble, an executive with the San Francisco 49ers, is a Haddonfield native.
There's very little doubt who the locals will be pulling for when Super Bowl XLVII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles are nowhere near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans today. But there is an Eagles connection.
Tom Gamble, the son of former Eagles President Harry Gamble, is the director of player development for the 49ers and a 1981 Haddonfield Memorial High School graduate. His parents, Harry and Joan, still live in the borough and plan to be parked on their living room couch watching the game.
"Tom, of course, invited us out but I don't like all the hubbub," Harry said Saturday afternoon. "There's a lot of preliminary stuff that's not important to me, the game is. Unfortunately, we never made it when I was with the Eagles. Now, as far as I'm concerned, the best place to see it is on the television in my living room."
Harry, 81, a tough-as-nails executive, led the Eagles during the Norman Braman era from 1986 to '95, a time when stars like Reggie White and larger-than-life personalities like Buddy Ryan prowled the sidelines of Veterans Stadium.
Around that time, somewhere in the bowels of the cavernous hunk of concrete that was the Vet, "Tommy" Gamble was learning the ropes of the NFL from the bottom up.
"Norman Braman met him one day and said, 'I'd like to have you work for me,'" said Joan Gamble, Tom's mother, Harry's wife. "He went over there and started at the bottom, selling tickets and worked himself up to director of pro player development."
The warm relationship with Braman, who was maligned as a tightwad who refused to pay for top talent, continues today. Harry said he speaks to Braman at least once a week and Tom does, as well. Harry said Braman got a raw deal when the media and fans pegged him as a spendthrift owner.
"Norman told me when he bought the team, 'The only time I lose money is when I stick my nose into things I know nothing about. That's why I want you to run the football side of this.'"
Joan said her family and Braman remain close.
"He calls us all the time, from his yacht, or wherever he is."
When a reporter joked with her about receiving Braman's call in their yacht on Hopkins Pond here in Haddonfield, she laughed and said they had a canoe, and laughed again at the thought of speaking with him from their canoe to his yacht.
But the Gambles and others who remembered Tom growing up in Haddonfield didn't doubt that his small-town upbringing and the values he learned here are still serving him well today.
"I used to coach him in Little League," said Bill Brown, a retiree and longtime Haddonfield resident. "I think the direct effect of my baseball coaching affected his decision to go into football."
Brown said he remembers Tommy as "mature, consistent and dependable."
"He was a nice, rosy-cheeked kid," Brown said.
Now the former "rosy-cheeked kid" is at a place his dad has never been, the Super Bowl.
It was impossible to reach Tom this week. He didn't even call his parents, which his mom says never happens.
"I assume he's very, very busy," Joan said. "He hasn't called in a week and usually he calls daily."
Tom has also been busy being courted by the likes of the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars to become their next general manager. Media reports in New York had this speculation heating up in the weeks before today's game. But his mother said she thinks Tom is staying put.
"He has two sons in high school out there and he's very happy in San Francisco," she said. "I think he turned the Jets down. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
So it comes down to this in today's Super Bowl: A kid from Haddonfield up in the executive suite versus Joe Flacco, the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens and former Audubon High School standout.
Two Colonial Conference rivals duking it out to decide football supremacy. Just like the old days.
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