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Born in Jerome, Pennsylvania, Kalmanir grew up in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. He played college football at the University of Nevada as a Running Back and Return Specialist. At Nevada Tommy set numerous records and was a member of two bowl teams in 1947 and 1948, often considered the greatest teams in Nevada football history. He was selected in the NFL draft in 1949 and played with the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts. He was a member of the Rams' 1951 NFL Championship Team. While with the Rams he appeared as a guest on the television game show What's My Line? in September 1952.