Merrill Reese has made his share of memorable calls in his previous 34 seasons as the radio voice of the Philadelphia Eagles.
And he confirmed that DeSean Jackson’s punt return to cap the Eagles’ amazing comeback win over the Giants at the New Meadowlands Stadium in December is now his favorite call.
But there’s one call that Reese can’t wait to make.
It’s the one that will come at the end of a long-awaited Super Bowl victory for the Eagles.
“The reason I want that call is not for me, but for the fans who have suffered so much over the years,” Reese said on Monday at Lehigh University as he patrolled the sidelines at Eagles training camp.
“They’ve come so close, so many times. For the fans to experience that feeling of this team winning a Super Bowl, winning a championship for the first time since 1960, that’s why I’d want that call. That would make me happy. I’ve had so many exciting moments over the years. I can’t ask for anything more. But I want to see the fans get that championship. I’d love it, too, but I really want it for them.”
Maybe that call will come on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, the date and location of Super Bowl XLVI. Like everyone else, Reese has been impressed with the Eagles’ moves in the week since the lockout was lifted.
“How can you not be excited about this team?” he said. “It might be the most talented Eagles team I’ve ever seen.”
While all of the buzz has been about the defensive acquisitions, Reese thinks quarterback Michael Vick will be even better this season than he was in 2010.
“While he has the arm strength, he wasn’t always the most accurate quarterback,” Reese said. “Now, he’s throwing guided missiles and hitting receivers in stride. And, hopefully you don’t have to see him, but as a backup, Vince Young can come in and play in the mold of Michael Vick. He’s an athletic quarterback who has won games in this league and Shady [LeSean] McCoy is headed for the prime of his career.”
No matter what happens, good or bad, Reese is the guy many Eagles fans prefer to hear it from.
TV volumes are often turned down in favor of Reese and analyst Mike Quick on the radio.
What fans should appreciate about Reese is that he knows the team inside and out because he’s around the Eagles all the time. Many play-by-play guys only show up on game day, but Reese will be at Lehigh for training camp and around the team as much as possible.
“I love every day,” he said. “I love coming up here to training camp. I have to live football from the beginning of the draft until the end of the season. I have to be here. There will be a day here and there where I have to be at the station for some recording, but I feel like I should be here. If there are 17 days of practice, I will be here for at least 15.”
When he was in the Lehigh Valley recently for the Andre Reed celebrity golf tournament, Quick said he enjoyed working with Reese because “Merrill has such great recall.”
The two have great chemistry because they are friends.
“Mike and I were friends when he was a player and he was always someone I could go up and talk to,” Reese said. “He was always a great guy and I can tell you that in all of the years Mike and I have worked together, there has never been a cross word between us. We play golf together, we share family occasions together. We’re really good, close friends.”
Quick admitted recently that he and Reese are “homers,” but that doesn’t mean that they go easy on the Eagles players and coaches.
“Hopefully, we do it in a respectful way and don’t call for anyone’s job,” Reese said. “But we broadcast to one of the most sophisticated audiences in the National Football League. The people in the Delaware Valley region know what they’re watching and we’d lose our credibility if we weren’t honest. A bad play is a bad play and sometimes they make decisions that I am not entirely on board with.”
Reese admits he is not perfect either.
“I thought Bobby Hoying was a terrific draft choice,” he said. “So, I make mistakes as well.”
The fans will forgive him for that and for not initially liking the Vick signing. Much like Harry Kalas, Reese has become an iconic figure on the Philly sports scene.
“The fans have been great and now with satellite radio we can be heard by fans all over the country,” he said. “If I can have any job in the world, this would be it. I’ve had opportunities to do network TV many times, but the radio station has been very kind. I would rather do this than anything else.”
Reese has a distinctive tone and style that is often imitated but never duplicated.
One of those who does a spot-on Merrill Reese imitation is Morning Call colleague and Eagles beat reporter Nick Fierro.
When told that, Reese didn’t flinch.
“Nick may attempt to imitate my voice, but he’d really like to imitate my golf swing, and he can’t do that either,” he said.
Read more at the Morning Call where this story was originally published.