Reese back at Super Bowl after 24 years

Things have changed quite a bit for the voice of the Eagles, since the last time the team played in the Super Bowl in 1981.

Back then, Merrill Reese was in his fourth season with the Eagles. He did the games with the late Jim Barniak on WIP 610-AM. His other job was as the sportscaster for WIP's morning show with Ken Garland, and Reese was a newlywed.

Twenty-four years later, Reese does the games with Mike Quick on WYSP 94.1-FM. He is in radio management as the part-owner of WBCB 1490-AM, and his wife of 25-years, Cindy, and their children, Nolan, 22, and Ida, 19, will join him in Jacksonville, Fla., this weekend.

Reese, who has called every game and attended every practice and training camp since the 1977 season, said even though he's felt the pain and frustration over the years with the fans, he didn't cry when the Eagles won the NFC Championship.

"I was too professionally involved in calling the action at the time," he said. "I didn't tear up until the last commercial break of the broadcast when my son called and was crying on the phone, "Dad, we're finally going to the Super Bowl.' "

The veteran announcer said even after all these years, he still gets nervous before a game. On game day, to settle his stomach, he'll have the same breakfast he's had before every game since 1977 - pancakes and hot tea (get this man an IHOP endorsement).

Reese said he isn't practicing what could be a potentially historic call if the Eagles win on Sunday.

"That is the surest way of doing something contrived," he said.

Though many have agonized over the recent Eagles' NFC Championship Game losses, Reese maintains it was nothing compared to the feeling when they lost the Super Bowl to the Oakland Raiders in 1981.

"I remember players saying how players needed to play in a Super Bowl to come back and win it the following year," he said. "Here we are 24 years later."

Reese who said he felt "extremely confident" before the Eagles' NFC Championship Game win over Atlanta, said of this week, "The fans have every right to believe there is a chance for an upset."

Fox analyst Troy Aikman has encouraging words for Eagles fans.

Speaking of New England's previous appearances in the Super Bowl, Aikman said, "Super Bowl experience is overrated. The first year the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl, we had only two players with previous experience. We killed the Buffalo Bills who were in the Super Bowl years before."

Comparing the Patriots and Eagles, Aikman said, "It's anybody's game, and they are evenly matched across the board."

Fellow analyst Cris Collinsworth chuckled when he was told that some Philadelphia fans think he has a bias against the Eagles.

"I don't think I've ever done a game where the city doesn't think I'm biased against their team," he said. "It must be my style.Whoever wins or loses the game makes absolutely no difference to me."

Aikman, Collinsworth and Joe Buck will call their first Super Bowl together Sunday.

The local stations all have specials tonight. WCAU airs "Unfinished Business" at 7 p.m. KYW continues with "Eagles: Showdown Jacksonville" at 7:30 p.m. WPVI airs "Super Bowl Frenzy" at 10 p.m. WTXF airs a "Fox Friday" special at 10:30 p.m. And "Lou Tilley's Sports Connection" has a special edition at 11 p.m. on CN8. Comcast SportsNet has a bunch of specials beginning with an Andy Reid press conference at 8:30 a.m., a Bill Belichick press conference at 9:30 a.m., and a "Daily News Live Tailgate Party" at 5 p.m.