You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Auburn center Ben Tamburello impressed Eagles Head Coach Buddy Ryan in the 1987 Senior Bowl.
“Every time he stood up for another guy, he stopped him right,” Ryan says. “He has enough power to change it. He is tough and smart. He has a lot of pluses on his side.”
“I was fortunate to come from a very physical background with (Auburn’s) Pat Dye in terms of meeting and just working. And Buddy was the same way,” Tamburello says. “Buddy was a no-nonsense guy. I was used to it and I knew what to expect. That’s where I came from, that environment, so I loved it. And I I loved him very much.”
A consensus All-America center, Tamburello was selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft.
“It was like a whirlwind because you find out you’re drafted, and the next thing you know, you’re on a plane the next day to Philly,” says Tamburello. “I’m just happy, a dream come true. I couldn’t wait to get up there. And Philly was a team I’ve always followed, so I was very familiar with them.”
One of three offensive linemen the Eagles drafted that year — David Alexander and Brian Williams are the others — Tamburello will find that there’s more to it than that.
“One of the biggest eye-openers I’ve ever seen was my first practice. There were about 28 young men applying for positions,” says Tamburello. eight. “At Buddy’s camp, eight offensive linemen, you had five starters and three backups. So it was less (the chance to make a team). You look around and you see big, fast, strong men. , they can play football, and you wonder how I’m going to do this?”
Another way he could do it was by playing a different position.
“I never played anything but center until I got to Philadelphia,” says Tamburello. “In the NFL, there’s so much you can do. Buddy just kept the offensive linemen and they will put the best players they can in those slots. If you hurt someone, it’s a numbers thing. a few of those opportunities are where I learned to guard. And I got mad at field goals and punts. You had to do more.”
Placed on Injured Stadium after breaking his left thumb during a preseason game and being part of a players’ strike, Tamburello’s post-draft hurricane season lasted longer than he thought.
“Getting hurt and hit your first year, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a rough road,'” Tamburello laughed. “Obviously the strike, I had no control over it, but you don’t make money when you’re on strike. So it was a commitment.
“But I’ll tell you one thing, Buddy didn’t expect anyone to meet that picket line. Other teams had players crossing the line. They all determined.”
Participating as one of Ryan’s three versatile linemen for five seasons with the Eagles, Tamburello also started in the zone, including the 1990 playoff game against Washington.
“Experience with benefits is very important. Many times, more than raw talent,” Tamburello says. “You meet people who are as good as you or better, and all you can do is all you can and see what happens. I was in that place every year, so it was It’s a big challenge for me. But that’s the way it is. The NFL is very competitive.”
Tamburello’s post-playing career has been competitive as well. When he retired in 1992, he returned to Alabama and opened an insurance agency in Montgomery. And although he had great success in business for more than 10 years, he and his wife, Katie, chose to move their family to a city he knew better, his hometown of Birmingham.
“We have three children, and at the time, the oldest was in the third grade. We wanted to take them to Birmingham because it is known for some terrible schools. And it was home to by,” Tamburello says. “I wanted to get into something selling so I could hit the ground running, in other words, real estate is what it is. And it’s a relationship business.
“It’s great because there’s competition. You don’t work every day and you go out and apply for a job every day. Nobody’s going to give you a check, unless you retire. . You have to go make it happen.”
A real estate agent for RE/MAX Southern Homes in Birmingham, Tamburello lists and sells residential properties.
He says: “It’s a good market, but I’ve been through highs and lows when it wasn’t this way. “And so you advise people. You are kind of a team. You contribute to creating solutions to make big goals happen for people. And when it happens, it’s very exciting.”
The Tamburellos have three children: Ben, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and played on the Navy football team from 2012-16; Anna, who received a degree in music education from Appalachian State; and Julia, who will be a freshman in the fall at Auburn University.