Entering his 41st season commentating, Reese revealed he has a good feeling about this upcoming season.
Longtime Eagles radio play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese acknowledges he is optimistic about the team entering every football season.
“Guilty as charged,” he said.
Reese recently addressed a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The event was held at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, 6500 Tabor Ave. in Lawndale.
Bill Conaway, the Protestant Home’s director of community relations, introduced Reese, who is entering his 41st season in the booth. Reese appeared on WBCB (1490 AM) just before his remarks. He is co-owner of the Levittown-based station, which broadcasts a weekly show at PPH.
Soon, fans will be hearing the 74-year-old’s familiar voice — and that of his good friend and color commentator Mike Quick — on Sportsradio 94WIP and more than a dozen other places on the dial, including WBCB.
Fans will be hearing him for a long time.
“I will never retire,” he said.
Reese told the PPH crowd that he senses something special, like in 2000, when coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb were both in their second season.
Reid, McNabb and the Eagles reached the Super Bowl four years later.
Reese calls Doug Pederson, a former assistant under Reid and teammate of McNabb, a “smart coach.”
As for Carson Wentz, Reese believes, in three years, he’ll be the best quarterback in the NFC East and among the top five in the NFL.
“That’s how good he is,” he said.
Reese recalled the Eagles were 3–1 last season before offensive tackle Lane Johnson began serving a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Eagles went 2–8 in his absence.
The Eagles, in Reese’s opinion, have dramatically improved at wide receiver by signing free agents Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
Reese is also high on LeGarrette Blount, counting on the 250-pound running back to be effective on third down and short yardage.
Defensive end Derek Barnett, Reese said, should have a good season. Drafted 16th overall in the first round of April’s draft, he broke Reggie White’s sack records at Tennessee.
The second-round pick, cornerback Sidney Jones, has great potential, in Reese’s view. He is expected to miss the season with an injury.
Overall, Reese said it is “doubtful” the Eagles will make the Super Bowl this year, but would be “disappointed” if they didn’t make the playoffs.
Reese offered some critical remarks about former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and the sputtering Cleveland Browns organization.
The broadcaster saved some of his kindest words for, perhaps surprisingly, former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. A self-described “dog person” who enjoys spending time with his daughter’s Boston terrier, Reese called Vick — who spent 21 months in jail for his role in a dog-fighting ring — “the best teammate.”
As for the best coach, that one was easy. Dick Vermeil was the “best coach I’ve ever been around.”
Brian Dawkins, Eric Allen and Sean Landeta are among the former Eagles who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Reese’s opinion. A no-brainer is Harold Carmichael, Reese said, contending that he was a better wide receiver than Lynn Swann, of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Reese asked a series of trivia questions and gave away prizes for the right answers.
And what would a Merrill Reese speech be without one of his famous calls. Fans got to hear the final play of the Dec. 19, 2010 game against the New York Giants. The Eagles trailed by 21 points with less than eight minutes to go, but scored four touchdowns, including a game-ending punt return by DeSean Jackson, to pull out the miracle victory at the Meadowlands, as Reese screamed, “The Eagles win. The Eagles win.” ••