Merrill Reese

The day Chip Kelly big-timed Merrill Reese

The day Chip Kelly big-timed Merrill Reese

Everybody loves Merrill Reese, and Merrill Reese loves everybody. 

OK, almost everybody.

Merrill has been the voice of the Eagles for over 40 years. He’s the dean of NFL play-by-play broadcasters, beloved by players, coaches and team officials for four decades. 

And then there’s Chip Kelly.

“I had no relationship with Chip,” Reese said. “None.”

Reese spoke on a recent Eagle Eye podcast with myself and Dave Zangaro and related a story that illustrates Kelly’s prickly personality during his three years as Eagles head coach.

It was Nov. 27, 2014, Thanksgiving Day, and the Eagles had just gone into AT&T Stadium and destroyed the Cowboys, 33-10, on national TV in a battle for first place in the NFC East. 

You remember the game.

Nick Foles was out for the year, so Mark Sanchez got the start and had his best game as an Eagle. Jeremy Maclin caught 8-for-108, LeSean McCoy rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown, Jordan Matthews caught a TD pass, and the Eagles sacked Tony Romo four times and intercepted him twice. 

At the time, it seemed like a monumental win.

The Eagles improved to 9-3 and dropped the Cowboys to 8-4, and the mood was jubilant on the charter flight back to Philly.

Merrill was jubilant and couldn't wait to share his emotion with the coach.

I walked up to him on the plane flying home from Dallas after that great Thanksgiving night game, maybe the best game of his career here, and said, ‘Great game, Chip, it was really fun to call that,’ and he looked over and said, ‘Oh,’ and turned his head.

Yes, Chip Kelly big-timed the great Merrill Reese.

Even Rich Kotite didn’t do that.

“He was the worst communicator of any coach I’ve ever been around,” Reese said about Kelly. “I mean, Richie was mercurial, up, down all over the place, but Richie could be warm and nice. You never saw that with Chip.”

Curiously, once Kelly big-timed Merrill, his career began spiraling downward.

The Eagles lost their next three games, didn’t make the playoffs, then began the next season 6-9 before Kelly was fired.

Kelly went 2-14 in his one year with the 49ers and is 7-17 in two seasons at UCLA.

Let's do the math:

Before Chip big-timed Merrill, he was 65-16 as a head coach.

Since he big-timed Merrill, he’s 16-43.

I don't think it's a coincidence.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Why Merrill Reese was afraid of blowing call of Eagles' Super Bowl LII win

Why Merrill Reese was afraid of blowing call of Eagles' Super Bowl LII win

Merrill Reese had been waiting 40 year for this moment.
 
And he was nervous.
 
After announcing Eagles games since 1977, including two Super Bowl losses, he was about to call one of the biggest plays in Eagles history.
 
Nine seconds left. 
 
Eagles 41, Patriots 33. 
 
Patriots near midfield. 
 
One play left.

People say, ‘Were you nervous before that last play,' and the answer is yes,” Reese recalled this week on the Eagle Eye podcast. “But my nervousness was not on whether or not the Eagles would win that game. Because Brady didn’t have an Aaron Rodgers arm, and I had a feeling he was going to have trouble getting it there at that point where a Rodgers gets it way up in the air. I thought the Eagles were going to hold on. I was worried because we were sitting in the exact opposite corner of the end zone in Minneapolis and I was 110 yards away from where that ball landed and I didn’t want to be known as the announcer who blew the Super Bowl call. That’s why I was nervous.

As the world watched, Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete, the clock hit 0:00, the Eagles had their first Super Bowl championship and Reese didn’t blow the call.

As it went up there I followed it and I was able to see it, and I said, ‘It’s batted around and it’s … INCOMPLETE.’ Quickly, I looked up at the clock and I said, ‘The game is over and the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions, and then I said what I felt and I said, ‘Eagles fans everywhere, this one’s for you, let the celebration begin.’ That’s just what came out.

It was vintage Reese including the fans in his iconic call as the Eagles won their first NFL title in 57 years.
 
Reese appeared on the latest Eagle Eye podcast with Dave Zangaro and myself and spoke about how he prepared for the biggest moment of his professional career.
 
“There are broadcasters who will write out a paragraph to describe a championship if it occurs so they get it right,” he said. “We’ve been through this so many times - all of us - that I felt that I just wanted to let my emotion play out.”
 
Reese is a Philly guy, grew up in Overbrook Park, graduated from Overbrook High and Temple, spent all his life here.
 
Nobody connects with Eagles fans like Merrill.
 
And that synergy was fundamental in his impromptu call at the end of the Super Bowl.
 
“I want the Eagles to win the Super Bowl for the fans,” Reese said. “These are people, some of whom take second mortgages to buy their season tickets, people who spend their last dollars to buy their kids Carson Wentz jerseys for Christmas, these are the people who come out for wins and losses, ice, snow and rain, these are the people that I want that Super Bowl for. … That’s who deserved it more than anyone else. Best fans in the world. They’re great.”

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles 

Eagle Eye podcast: The full conversation with Merrill Reese

ee_reese.png
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagle Eye podcast: The full conversation with Merrill Reese

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro are joined by legendary Eagles play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese. 

The guys have a lengthy conversation about the possibility of calling a game with no fans, Merrill’s favorite and least favorite stadiums and his favorite and least favorite players and coaches since he became the voice of the Eagles in 1977. 

Reese also tells a great story about LeGarrette Blount from the day before Super Bowl LII. 

Plus, the guys continue Better or Worse with a look at running backs and look at Roob’s list of Super Bowl Eagles who might make the Eagles Hall of Fame. 

  • (1:15) — Welcoming Merrill Reese.
  • (3:29) — Fueled by fans during games.
  • (11:57) — Winning the Super Bowl was great and relationship with Eagles fans.
  • (18:49) — Merrill Reese trivia.
  • (20:56) — Working with Mike Quick.
  • (26:00) — Relationships with the different Eagles head coaches over the years.
  • (30:12) — Most exciting players to cover.
  • (39:44) — Better or Worse: Running Backs.
  • (46:03) — Which players from the Super Bowl team will end up in the Eagles' Hall of Fame.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles