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Merrill Reese honored with prestigious Pete Rozelle Award

The Voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese
The Voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese

During his iconic call of the final play of Super Bowl LII, which resulted in the first Lombardy Trophy in franchise history, Merrill Reese declared from the SportsRadio 94WIP booth, "Eagles fans, this is for you!"

Well, Merrill, this one is for you.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Thursday morning that Reese, the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NFL, is the 2024 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Reese will be celebrated alongside the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024 in Canton, Ohio on August 2-3.

"I cried. I was overwhelmed," Reese said as his phone was starting to swarm with congratulations from across the football world.

Reese said that he received a call on Wednesday afternoon from Canton. Curious, Reese answered, and it was Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter telling him the news of the award. Reese, the Voice of the Eagles since 1977, was ironically told to be silent.

"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," Porter said. "For nearly a half-century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill's legendary voice."

The titans of the broadcast industry from John Facenda to John Madden to Al Michaels to Ed Sabol are among those who have received this prestigious honor, named for the former NFL commissioner. Former Eagles Pro Bowl cornerback Irv Cross, who was a sports broadcasting pioneer in the 1970s, captured the award in 2009. But Reese is just the third team radio play-by-play announcer to join this esteemed group, along with Myron Cope (Steelers) and Van Miller (Bills).

"Merrill Reese is a true broadcasting legend whose iconic voice has served as the soundtrack of Philadelphia Eagles football for more than four decades," Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said. "It is his genuine enthusiasm, passion, and unwavering dedication to his craft that have contributed to his legacy as the longest-tenured radio play-by-play announcer in the National Football League. What truly sets Merrill apart is not just his talent in the radio booth, but the kindness and compassion he extends to everyone who has the privilege of crossing paths with him. We congratulate Merrill on this much deserved honor."

Eagles Hall of Fame wide receiver Mike Quick, Reese's partner since the 1998 season, was overcome with emotion upon hearing of Reese's honor.

"That is so good. Oh, my goodness. I'm so excited. I'm so happy for him. If they called me maybe I would have danced a little bit more, but I probably danced just as hard," Quick said. "It's a special thing and it's so well deserved. He's that dude, man. No one catches the moment better. When there is a moment that needs to be punctuated, no one captures the moment better."

While that first season together wasn't the best from an on-field standpoint, Quick realized early on what makes Reese the legend that he is today.

"He just showed me just by the way he operated the professional dedication that I needed to bring to the party to make sure that I'm not a complete slacker when I'm working with him. He led by the way he did things and he showed me what I would have to do to keep up, just in the way he handled his business like his study habits, his professionalism," Quick said. "I've looked over at this guy for 26 years now and before the game kicks off you see all this nervous energy, you see the copious notes that he takes, and just the detail that goes into his work. All of that makes me realize how important the job is, how much he's dedicated to the job, and when you get this type of honor, it's all well worth the time, the sacrifice that you put into what you do."

The 2024 campaign will mark Reese's 48th consecutive season in the booth. He was inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame in 2016 to coincide with his 40th anniversary. A proud alumnus of Overbrook High School and Temple University, Reese started his sports broadcasting career after he served in the U.S. Navy as a public affairs officer. He broke into sportscasting with high school football games at WPAZ in Pottstown before working at WBCB in Levittown, a station that he now co-owns. He was the color commentator for Eagles games in 1977 when play-by-play announcer Charlie Swift passed away suddenly.

Now, Reese's voice is the common thread between generations of Eagles games.

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