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Merrill Reese, This Is For You!

Last Thursday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NFL, Merrill Reese, is the 2024 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Reese, the legendary voice of the Philadelphia Eagles since 1977, will be honored alongside the rest of the 2024 Hall of Fame class in Canton, Ohio, on August 2-3. Seven former players will be enshrined in Canton this year - Dwight Freeney, Randy Gradishar, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Steve McMichael, Julius Peppers, and Patrick Willis. 

This honor comes eight years after the Eagles inducted Reese into their Hall of Fame in 2016.

“Each year, the Hall of Fame recognizes an individual who has dedicated their career to improving radio and television in professional football, and this year’s recipient, Merrill Reese, represents exactly what we look for when we talk about who’s made a big impact in broadcasting,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “For nearly a half-century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill’s legendary voice.”

Reese is just the third team play-by-play announcer to receive the esteemed award out of the previous 35 winners; the other two were Pittsburgh Steelers’ Myron Cope and Buffalo Bills’ Van Miller. 

“Oh, my god. Thank you so much,” Reese said over the phone upon receiving the news. “I can’t tell you what this means to me.”

The Philadelphia native attended Temple University and began his radio career in Pottstown, PA, where he called high school football games for WPAZ. Following that endeavor, Reese started working for WBCB in Levittown, PA, and in the early 1970s, he worked for different radio stations, including doing pregame and postgame spots on WIP.

Nothing would be the same in 1977 as Eagles fans were about to be welcomed to a voice they would fall in love with for many years. That year, Reese called games as the color commentator alongside Charlie Swift, who had been the play-by-play guy since 1969. While he was on a morning show with WWDB, Reese received the news that Swift had passed away, and WIP was looking for him to fill in for the lead play-by-play announcer. The rest is history. 

Throughout his illustrious career, Reese has received numerous awards and recognition, including Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year, Lindsey Nelson Award for Excellence in Sportscasting, Philadelphia’s Best Sportscaster by Philadelphia Magazine, and induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Temple University Communications Hall of Fame and Overbrook High School Hall of Fame.

With all that said, let’s look at some of the most iconic and memorable calls over the broadcaster’s 46-year career. 

Miracle at the Meadowlands I

The first Miracle at the Meadowlands was a legit miracle, as cornerback Herman Edwards recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown at the end of a November 19, 1978 game. The call from Reese told the story: "It's picked up by Herman Edwards, 15, 10, 5, touchdown Eagles! I don't believe it!"

Miracle at the Meadowlands II

It’s Good! Jake Elliot 61-yard Field Goal

James Willis 104-Yard Interception Return

Stop Cowboys Again

DeSean Jackson Miracle at the Meadowlands III

Philly Special

Arguably, the greatest play in Eagles franchise history, the Philly Special, came with it just as legendary as a call from Reese. Need I say more?

The Strip Sack to Virtually Clinch Super Bowl LII

The next call from Super Bowl LII was from the play that virtually clinched the victory for the Eagles. On 2nd Down and 2 with just over two minutes to go in the game and Philadelphia up, 38-33, edge rusher Brandon Graham strip-sacked Tom Brady, and Derek Barnett recovered it.

Reese basically called the play before it happened, as seconds before, he said, "If the Eagles could come up with their one turnover of the game right here, that would be sealing."

The Patriots would get the ball back down eight after an Eagles field goal, but as we all know, it ended in the Eagles' favor.

Eagles Fans Everywhere, This One’s For You!

Speaking of ending in the Eagles' favor. There is no doubt that the greatest call of Merrill Reese's career is the Eagles finally hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Let's just have the call speak for itself.

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