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December 15, 2011

Free Agent TE, Joel Gamble Interview

by Max Strauss

Joel Gamble played for Division II college called Shippensburg University up until the 2004 football season. He entered the 2005 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. He wasn’t offered a chance to play for an NFL team until he was given a chance four years later for the Philadelphia Eagles. After he was on the practice squad in 2009, he then was cut during the 2010 Browns season. Afterwards, he signed with the Tennessee Titans practice squad. This interview was done towards the end of the 2011 NFL season.

Click here to download audio interview with Joel Gamble.

Add Joel Gamble as a friend on Facebook! Check out his website, http://www.joelgamble82.com/

Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Joel Gamble. Gamble played at a Division II college called Shippensburg University. While he was there, he completed his career with 41 receptions, 631 yards, and 5 touchdowns. In addition, he was also a teammate of current Falcons’ cornerback, Brent Grimes and current Packers running back, John Kuhn. He entered the 2005 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. He didn’t even get a chance to make an NFL roster until four years later. The Eagles gave him a chance and signed him to their practice squad in 2009. He then earned another chance with the Cleveland Browns, but was cut before the end of the preseason. He then signed with the Tennessee Titans practice squad. He is currently looking for an NFL team to sign with. Here is the interview with current free agent, Joel Gamble. 

Strauss : How do you connect with your fans?

Gamble : Obviously through Facebook and through Twitter. I take pride in being one of the few athletes that actually talk to their fans on Twitter and on Facebook. I take the time to actually answer messages when I get a chance. I like to chat with the fans if they’re asking me questions. There are a lot of people who want things, but I make sure to take the time out to chat with them on social networks. I try to do giveaways since fans get excited about that. Those are the ways I try to connect with my fans on a day-to-day basis.

Strauss : What was it like for you playing youth football?

Gamble : I didn’t play much youth football. The weird thing about it is that I was overweight when I decided that I wanted to play pop warner. I basically played about two games of pop warner, and then I was told that I couldn’t play anymore. I waited until high school until I got a chance to play then. From high school on, I played.

Strauss : What was high school football like for you?

Gamble : It was exciting. I started off my ninth grade playing on the offensive line. That was crazy. I shot up in high school. Basically my body leaned and everything when I got taller. I had the option to play tight end, and then I also  played wide receiver as I grew older and became faster and stronger. I played receiver in high school. Basically I had a growth spurt going into high school. I was a little younger than most people going into high school and going into college with my birthday being around christmas time. I went to school early, so I was younger than most people, so I had my growth spurt late. Once I started playing receiver and tight end, it was definitely a good experience. I played everywhere. I played in the backfield and played defensive end also. It was always fun to play in high school.

Strauss : What was the transition like to Shippensburg, and why did you choose Shippensburg?

Gamble : Before I went to Shippensburg, I actually got injured during my senior and I only played three games. I still made all of the All-Star teams and all of that, but I only played three games during my senior year so most of the Division I schools actually shied away from the offers they had. Shippensburg was still recruiting me. I ended up going there. I liked their offense at the time, they had a passing offense. I ended up choosing to go there.

The transition was rough, going from high school and being a star to going to college, and really anywhere you go, everyone was a star at their high school. Basically, I had to go through the ups and downs of waiting my turn, waiting for my opportunity, since I was behind a senior tight end. In college, they don’t just let you beat out a senior tight end just because you come in after being highly recruited. I basically had to wait my turn, and once I did get my opportunity I had to shine and make the most of it. Fortunately, I learned out of that ordeal to be humble and be patient. I learned from the veteran players to go on and that when I do get my opportunity to make the most of it.

I feel the transition in terms of the game, it was faster, and the players were stronger. I had to get used to the game schemes speeding up.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from Shippensburg?

Gamble : I would have to say a playoff game during my senior year when I knocked a guy’s helmet off. The crowd just went wild. It was on a block. I actually have it on my website. http://www.joelgamble82.com. It was in a playoff game against Westchester, D2 playoffs, and the 2nd round. We were down 27-7, and once I made that block the crowd went wild and everything. Then, a couple plays later, I scored a touchdown and started our comeback, and we came back, took the lead 28-27, but they ended up scoring again within a minute and thirty some seconds. We ended up losing that game, but my favorite moment when I knocked the helmet off. It was the craziest block of my college experience, even looking at it now.

Strauss : Before your time at Shippensburg, [former Packers TE] Rob Davis went there. Did you ever get to meet him or talk to him?

Gamble : Yeah, I met him when he came back to Shippensburg to talk to the team. But I actually didn’t meet him and get a chance to talk to him, face-to-face by myself, and that’s unfortunate. Rob was the first out of Shippensburg to actually make it into the NFL. Then, John Kuhn, Ron Johnson, Brent Grimes, and myself. It’s a small handful of us that actually got a chance to make it to the NFL. It was definitely nice to step in though.

Strauss : You mentioned John Kuhn and Brent Grimes, what were each of them like at Shippensburg?

Gamble : They were stars! On offense, we ran the Wing T. John Kuhn played the fullback which was basically the halfback. He got the ball the majority of the time, and he was a beast. It was amazing to watch him run the ball. He was basically our running back.

Brent Grimes, watching him as a punt returner and as a cornerback for us. It was so effortless to see him return kicks and make people miss. Then, he’d go up and get the interceptions and dive. I remember one he made that his body was like totally out, he made the grab. He just looked like Superman. He is probably the most athletic guy I’ve ever seen in person. That’s saying a lot because obviously I’ve been on different NFL teams, and I played basketball in high school. I have been around a lot of athletes. I would still have to say he is probably the most athletic guy that. He is 5’9″ and can 360 dunk, and I’ve see him jump over a car. He’s pretty athletic, and can do some pretty amazing stuff on the field too. It’s obviously showing as he made the Pro Bowl last year.

Strauss : What was your draft day experience like?

Gamble : I never got drafted. Coming out of Shippensburg, I don’t think any of us got drafted. Coming from a Division II, it’s not too many guys that make it on Draft Day. I actually didn’t get a chance to make it into the NFL until like five years later. I graduated in 2004-2005, and I didn’t get a chance to play in the NFL until 2009. My draft day was kind of disappointing. I didn’t really know the process coming out of college, especially what I know now. I know now I needed to work on my forty yard dash, and stuff of that nature. I didn’t really get to do stuff like that coming from a small school where guys don’t really make it into the NFL. Before us, it was really only one guy, Rob Davis. Shippensburg wasn’t known to have NFL players. The process was hard because we weren’t prepared getting ready for an NFL Pro Day or the draft or anything like that. I didn’t get drafted or signed until 2009. I kept working on my abilities. I got faster. I got stronger. I kept pushing over those years to reach my dream. I played Arena Football and took different avenues to reach my dream, and I finally made it in 2009.

Strauss : What was it like to finally make it in the NFL?

Gamble : Wow. Man. It was mind-blowing. I remember when I was in the fitting room. I went back into the fitting room for my helmet and my shoulder pads, and they opened the fitting room for my cleats and all, and it looked like a Foot Locker to see all of the Nike boxes of cleats and all. They asked me what size I wanted to wear, what kind of helmet, what kind of facemask I want. I signed first with the Eagles. When I signed with the Eagles, I was like, ‘Wow! This is a Philadelphia Eagles helmet that I have on me right now.’ It was an experience like Madden. I got to choose the facemask I wanted. It was surreal. I got my jersey and it had my name stitched on the back. It was such an exciting feeling! I was just smiling from ear to ear. I walked into the meeting rooms, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick were in there. Same with Kevin Kolb and Brian Westbrook. All these guys, and I’m standing there like ‘Man, when I was in college, I used to play with these guys in Madden.’ Now, I’m sitting in the same room, going over film with these guys, and then, stepping out on the practice field.

Once I stepped out onto the field, it was like a business. It kind of proved how hard you have to work. McNabb was like, ‘Hey I see you out there #48!’ That was my number in Philadelphia. Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick rotated being quarterbacks, so it was a good experience. It was great to walk into the facility, and be like, this is my job. I showed up every morning extra early, went to eat breakfast, and just take in that I was going to work for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was definitely a good opportunity and definitely gratifying and exciting knowing that all of my hard work had paid off and that I was working where I always dreamed of working.

Strauss : Can you tell me about what the transition was like to the Browns and to the Titans?

Gamble : At the end of the season, Tom Heckert, the General Manager and John Sandusky, one of the directors of personnel actually left the Eagles and these were the guys that brought my into Philadelphia. They got signed onto Mike Holmgren’s staff in Cleveland. That’s basically how I ended up in Cleveland. As soon as my contract was up in Philadelphia, they signed me with the Cleveland Browns. At the end of the preseason, we had four tight ends, Rob Royal, Ben Watson, Alex Smith, and this was my first training camp and I was signed on late in Philly. I didn’t get an opportunity to stay with the Cleveland Browns. 

About a week or two after I left, I ended up signing with the Tennessee Titans. The transition was rough. It was rough to spend the whole preseason with guys, learning the offense, and you’re looking forward to being a part of the offense, and being a part of the team, and around the coaching staff, and a city. And then, the next thing you know you’re leaving and going to another city, learning a new offense, and meeting new teammates. It was a rough transition, but it’s part of the business, and you just have to deal with it day-to-day and be a professional about it.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory in the NFL?

Gamble : Basically getting my first start in the preseason against the Chicago Bears. Basically playing the whole game, and getting an opportunity to catch my first pass in the NFL. Playing the whole game, and knowing that I could actually compete in the NFL was probably one of my favorite parts about it. Knowing that I could play and compete at a high level, and I didn’t just go out there and off it up. It’s a good feeling knowing that and knowing that my family and friends saw me on TV. I was representing more than just me. A lot of people were rooting for me. I still have fans that are rooting for me. They want me to come back, and that’s a good feeling even knowing that. No matter what happens, I still have fans that are behind me and that want to see me succeed. That’s really positive.

Strauss : What do you do now that you’re out of the NFL?

Gamble : I do train. I’m trying to get back. I’m looking for a job now. I already have my degree in criminal justice, so now, I’m in the process of looking for a job in that field. I’m still training and waiting for an opportunity to sign back with an NFL team. It’s kind of the frustrating part right now being on the outside looking in. It is what it is. I trust that God will give me another opportunity in camp. 

Strauss : So who do you think has had the most impact on your career? 

Gamble : Oh, wow! I would have to say that I looked up to Shannon Sharpe. Just watching him play the tight end position. I took different things from different coaches, and kind of studied myself. I can’t really say one person coached me up to be the player I am. I took different things from different people. That kind of molded me to the player that I am. Watching Shannon Sharpe and different tight ends in the NFL when I was growing up while I was playing the position, I kind of studied it myself and learned how to go about playing the position. I also watched route running. I watched different things from players and tried to use that to my advantage. I coached myself up, from different drills that coaches gave me, and I put it all together.

Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

Gamble : Haha. I would have to say that I would be Breyer’s’ Cookies N’ Cream. It’s got a sweet personality, got a nice bite to it. Everybody likes the flavor. 

Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, what’s the best advice for them?

Gamble : I would say police yourself. I would say never wait for someone else to tell you what you need to be doing. That’s one thing that separates NFL athletes or pros in general. It’s a basic concept, especially if you’re coming from where things aren’t set up. You got to work extra hard. You got to be able to police yourself, coach yourself, know what you’re doing wrong, know what you haven’t done, know what you need to be doing. Basically, make sure you’re doing what you need to do. You can’t have someone standing overtop of you all the time telling you what you need to do. You need to do it yourself. That’s what I would say the main thing is to get to the NFL is. Be a pro about yourself and about your life. Doing things without someone else telling you what you need to do.

Strauss : Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Gamble : Alright, no problem. Take care. 

Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Joel Gamble. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website https://prointerviews.org/ for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. Please subscribe to me on YouTube at http://youtube.com/ProInterviews/ Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me.

->Here are the personal questions that Joel Gamble answered.<-

Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?

Gamble : I would have to go with either Michael Jordan, just to pick his brain and ask him questions about his drive, and what it took for him to get to the top of his craft, how much work he put in, what were some of the obstacles that he faced throughout his life, and share my journey with him as well. I’d also go over the business side of things as far as how he went about things in his career, and talk about his personal life. 

Strauss : Who was someone you looked up to while you were growing up?

Gamble : Deion Sanders. When I was growing up, Deion was probably the reason that I got interested in football. He was so exciting to watch. He played offense and defense in the NFL. He made the game seem so fun. When I was younger, I just went outside and picked up a football and played with some kids in the neighborhood. Everybody wanted to be somebody. You had Jerry Rice’s, and the Emmitt Smith’s, but I always wanted to be Deion. I wanted to do the Deion shuffle, the high step, all of that. As a child, I looked up to Deion Sanders, he was one of my favorite players.

Strauss : What is your favorite TV show?

Gamble : Martin. His show is hilarious. I have every season and episode on DVD. That was my favorite television show, and it still is even though it’s not on the air anymore. 

Strauss : What is your favorite movie of all time? 

Gamble : I would have to say the most recent Batman, ‘The Dark Knight’ for now. I would have to say I’m a big movie person. Superhero movies are awesome. I loved them growing up. They did such a great job with Batman and the Joker. There are all types of movies you can choose though. I really like ‘Glory’ also.

Strauss : What is your favorite type of pie?

Gamble : Sweet potato pie.

Strauss : What would be your last meal on earth? 

Gamble : That’s a tough one. I would have to go with stuffed chicken from Ruth Chris, the cream spinach, and sweet potato casserole. In addition, I would want some Breyer’s’ vanilla bean ice cream.

Strauss : Do you have a special pre-game ritual?

Gamble : No pre-game ritual. In the hotel room, I practice on my blocking and on my footwork. I go over the game-plan for that week.

Strauss : What is your favorite song?

Gamble : I would have to say ‘Can I Live’.

Strauss : Thank you so much for your time answering these questions too!

CLICK IT!

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