Hall of a duet: Voice of the fans & The Axeman
PHILADELPHIA >> Merrill Reese is the sound the Eagles make on radio. From the signature calls of “25, 20, 15, 10, touchdown” to “it’s gooooooood!,” he’s as much a part of the organizational brand as “E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!”
Calling him the Voice of the Eagles might be an understatement.
“He’s the Voice of Philadelphia,” Eagles receiving great Harold Carmichael said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in this city that doesn’t know his voice from Eagles games, commercials and everything. And Merrill has always been for the Philadelphia fan. He’s a voice for the fans.”
Reese, the play-by-play man in his 40th year, and linebacking great Jeremiah Trotter will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame Monday night at halftime of the game with the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Forgive the older generation if we choke up. Reese in particular is an institution, not some Rocky creation. Can we lose the statue and substitute the equally approachable Reese?
“There are a lot of things that have changed in 40 years,” said Mike Quick, another epic Eagles wide receiver, who works as analyst with Reese on the WIP game broadcasts. “But the one thing that has been consistent here is Merrill Reese. Every year, every game, he’s consistent. So I don’t think there’s a true Hall of Fame for the Eagles if he’s not a part of it. That’s just the reality of it.”
Reese and Trotter, one of the most fiery and fearless players to suit up for the Eagles, are grateful to owner Jeffrey Lurie for making them part of the distinguished hall, and to the fans.
“Week in and week out for us, they were cheering us on through the good days and the bad days,” Trotter said. “It’s truly a privilege to be going in. There’s a lot of people who have come through this organization and not gotten into the Eagles’ hall. So I mean I’m in some good company. “It’s an honor.” What Reese contributes to the Eagles goes beyond what you hear over the airwaves. A perfect example is the voiceovers he does for special teams.
What Eagles players call “Saturday Night Fight Night” begins with Reese usig his famous voice to introduce specific players by height, weight, college and task at hand, sort of like you’d hear at a prefight introduction.
Then the opposing players are mentioned, followed by something crafty. Let’s say the Eagles are playing Houston. After stating the matchup, Reese would finish with, “Houston, you’ve got a problem!”
The players are ready to jump through the screen.
“That’s like one of the best things to look forward to during the week, Merrill announcing the big matchups,” linebacker Bryan Braman said. “It definitely gets you ready to go. It’s fun and for him to do it, I mean, when you think about the Philadelphia Eagles and the games that you watch on Sundays it’s hard for you not to know who Merrill Reese is.”
Eagles linebacker Najee Goode called fight night “the game before the game.
“You’ve got the music in the background, the same music you’ve got at the kickoffs and it’s just kind of, let each fighter come to the ring and boom!,” Goode said. “It’s great. Living legend. And his voice, he better have insurance on that thing.”
Reese is the Vince Scully of pro football. No one has done NFL play-byplay longer. Brad Sham, in his 38th year doing so with the Dallas Cowboys, is an incredibly close friend of Reese in a profession where it’s tough to get to know who the other guys are, as there are just 20 games in a season.
Hopefully the fans who boo Sham because of the Cowboys connection during the video tribute Monday don’t drown out his straight-from-the-heart message.
“One of the things I said in there was Merrill’s recognition in the Eagles’ Hall of Fame is so fitting because so many of his best traits embody all the best things about Philadelphia,” Sham said. “Passion, loyalty, hard work, you could go on and on. I think he’s a great representative for the franchise. It’s been one of the top joys of my working life to become friends with him.”
That’s what we call sticking the landing. At the risk of sounding mushy, I couldn’t have said that better. Having had the opportunity to work some of Reese’s shows at WBCB Radio (1490 AM) reminds me of a ‘gotcha’ moment during a chat with Quick.
“I work with him every week doing the games,” Quick said. “But I’m also a fan of the guy and his work. And it’s a real honor for me to work with him.” Make that a double. As for Reese, on the other side of, let’s say 70, here’s hoping he gets that Super Bowl championship ring he wants every bit as badly as Lurie.
Head coach Doug Pederson vowed to do his best to make that happen.
“Listen, all of us, we’re not getting any younger,” Pederson said. “And for 40 years Merrill Reese has devoted his time and he’s dedicated his life to the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s gone through some good times and he’s gone through some bad times. Hopefully we’re on the right track, in my opinion, and hopefully we can get there sooner than later. Hopefully we can get there before I retire or he retires or whatever.”
Reese and Trotter, the most dominant Eagles middle linebacker since Bill Bergey, weren’t sure what they will say to Eagles fans. You can bet Eagles fans will get a huge thank you from both.
As for Reese, I made a suggestion. After giving thanks, he could shift into his play-by-play baritone and say something like, “to all of you out there, what can I say about going into the Eagles Hall of Fame other than, it’s goooooooooddd!”
Well, you can rule that out. Guess that’s why he’s the Voice of Philadelphia, the Voice of the Eagles, and the Voice of the Eagles Fans.
Eagles team owner Jeffrey Lurie is flanked by a pair of beloved inductees who will enter the organization’s Hall of Fame on Monday night: linebacking great Jeremiah Trotter, left, and Merrill Reese, the Birds’ iconic playby-play announcer.