What in the World Happened to Chris Gamble?


Ladies and gentleman, place your bets! Today’s random athlete of the day is Chris Gamble. Born in Boston, Massachusetts Gamble is well known for his contribution to The Ohio State University Football program. Due to his raw talent and versatility Chris Gamble played on both sides of the ball at Ohio State. He was recruited as a wide receiver and kick returner but learned the corner position during his sophomore year.  

During Gamble’s career at Ohio State he recorded 65 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 21 pass deflections on defense, and on offense he reeled in 40 catches for 609 yards, ran the ball 6 times for 68 yards with 1 TD. He also caught 60 punts for 467 yards and returned 18 kickoffs for 384 yards. Although these numbers are not gaudy, let’s remember that he was playing in all three phases of the game and that on its own is an impressive feat. 

One of the most memorable moments (for diehard Ohio State fans) was during the ’02 season when Chris Gamble caught an interception against Penn State and took it to the house. Many fans claim that play was the loudest Ohio Stadium has ever been. While there is no official way to verify claims like that, it was certainly one of the most electrifying and exciting plays to ever take place inside the “Shoe” (Buckeye Battle Cry). The play can be seen below:

While Brent Musburger’s comparison of Chris Gamble to Charles Woodson brings joy to my heart what many sports fans know Gamble for is the 4th down play against The University of Miami in the ’02 National Championship game. 

Miami was leading Ohio State 24-17 in OT when Craig Krenzel lofted the ball to Gamble in the endzone. After obvious contact the ball fell incomplete and Miami players began to run onto the field and celebrate. A good 3 Mississippi’s later the back judge threw the penalty flag. The play was ruled pass interference, the ball was placed on the 1 and Ohio State scored on the next play. Ohio State then went on to win the National Championship game in Double OT 31-24. 

Being that this was the National Championship game this call created a bit of controversy. There were many colorful exchanges between fans on sports sites, blogs and major media outlets. Every fan of college football remembers this play and everyone has their own opinion on the call. I’m simply going to break it down into two different opinions.

Miami fans would argue this: The call was highly controversial because of the circumstances in which it took place. The referee waited until the play was well over to make the call and did what no referee should ever do: let their actions determine the outcome of a National Championship game. Ohio State had already converted a 4th and 14 earlier on the drive and the referee bailed them out by making this call. The referee blew the call with inexcusable timing and by calling a penalty that did not take place.

Ohio State fans would argue this: Chris Gamble was interfered with during that play. Whether or not the referee made the call during the course of play or while the field was full of confetti makes no difference. While the ball was in the air Glenn Sharpe obstructed Chris Gamble’s path to run under the ball and catch it.

The issue is that it was the wrong call and terribly timed. Did Sharpe commit pass interference? No. Did he obstruct his path beyond 5 yards and commit illegal contact? Yes. Regardless, the flag should have came out so much sooner.

Either way, this National Championship Game was one for the ages and was played at a much higher level than most title games. The number of NFL players that were in that game was outrageous. 100 players participated in the game and 58 players went on to play at least one NFL game. Chris Gamble just happened to be the only player who played on both sides.

Gamble was drafted 28th by the Carolina Panthers in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played on the Panthers and was a key component to the last undefeated Ohio State team. He retired from the Carolina Panthers on his 30th birthday and walked away with his millions. As to the status of his endeavors today, that remains to be discovered.

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