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Merrill Reese, Philadelphia Eagles radio announcer, earns Pro Football Hall of Fame award

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Merrill Reese, the Philadelphia Eagles' play-by-play radio broadcaster on WIP since 1977, is heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

On Thursday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Reese, 81, will receive the 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award ahead of his 48th season as the voice of the Eagles. 

"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," Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a news release. "For nearly a half century, fans tuning into Eagles games, including opposing fans, have had the privilege of hearing Merrill's legendary voice."  

Reese, the longest-tenured radio play-by-play announcer in the NFL, will receive the 2024 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. 

Reese will be recognized twice during 2024 Enshrinement Week - first at the Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner in downtown Canton on Aug. 2, 2024, and again on Aug. 3, 2024, during the Class of 2024 Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Other recipients of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award include Joe Buck, Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, Chris Berman and plenty of others. 

 "I was very emotional because I never saw it coming," Reese said. "I never expected it in a million years."

Reese said the most memorable call of his career was the "The Philly Special" in the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2018, the first in franchise history. 

"Foles in the gun. Clement to his right. Now lines up behind Foles," Reese said on the crucial call that will go down as one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history. "Foles moves to the right and it goes directly to Clement, and Clement reverses it and it goes into the end zone ... And it's a touchdown by Nick Foles!"  

Later in that game when the clock finally expired, and Brady's Hail Mary pass intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski was incomplete, Reese provided another excellent call that will play in the households of Eagles fans for generations. 

Merrill Cam: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots by Philadelphia Eagles on YouTube

"The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions," Reese said. "Eagles fans everywhere -- this is for you! Let the celebration begin!"

Since the news broke, Reese said he's been hearing from Eagles across the country and that his phone has been ringing nonstop. 

"I just got a text from Boston Scott, who is now a Ram, and from Alex Singleton, who is now a Denver Bronco. I'm hearing from so many of my friends," Reese said. 

For Reese, he said it's the relationship with the fans that makes this especially meaningful. 

"I broadcast to I think the most knowledgeable NFL audience in the country and they know I care about them, and they know that I'm honest with them," he said. 

Reese said he's sure to shed a tear or two once he's in Canton in August. 

"I was a mess when I found out, so hopefully I won't be any worse," Reese said. 

An Overbrook High School graduate who attended Temple University, Reese previously served in the U.S. Navy as a public affairs officer, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Senior Grade. He started out his radio career in Pottstown at WPAZ, where he called high school football games, then moved on to WBCB in Levittown.

In the early 1970s, Reese worked at different radio stations, including doing morning sports on WWDB and pregame and postgame Eagles shows on WIP.  

Reese's life changed in 1977 when he filled in as the lead play-by-play guy for the Eagles at WIP after Charlie Swift, who had called games for the team since 1969, died. 

A Philly native, Reese has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year, and the Lindsey Nelson Award for Excellence in Sportscasting, among others. He's also been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Temple University Communications Hall of Fame and Overbrook High School Hall of Fame.

"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 owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "It is his genuine enthusiasm, passion, and unwavering dedication to his craft that have contributed to his legacy as the longes-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."

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