One of the longest-tenured and most respected media members covering the Philadelphia Eagles announced his retirement Sunday morning. Ray Didinger, who has gone from newspaper columnist to multi-platform sage, told his listeners he’d end his decades of work at the end of this month.
On WIP Radio, he said he would retire at the end of his current contract, May 29th. The announcement stunned those who followed his career and regard him as the foremost authority and voice of reason on the football team we love.
Didinger’s career spanned five decades of Eagles’ coverage, from the last seasons at Franklin Field to the current days at the Linc. He’s worked in print, radio, television, and digital, along with writing multiple books.
Didinger grew up in the PA suburbs and graduated from Temple University in 1968. He started his career with The Philadelphia Bulletin, watching the Eagles end years of futility and become a contender. He moved on to The Philadelphia Daily News in 1980, the same season the Eagles won the NFC.
During his 16 years at the Daily News, he covered the team during some interesting seasons, along with the sale of the team to current owner Jeff Lurie in 1994. He also won the Dick McCann Memorial Award in 1995, becoming the youngest writer to earn a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Writer’s Honor Roll.
In 1998, Didinger started his work on Comcast SportsNet, serving as a panelist on Eagles Pre-Game Live, also appearing on post-game coverage. He joined NFL Films as a producer, working on documentaries and major projects like America’s Game.
Apparently working on TV and films wasn’t enough, as Didinger spent years doing weekend mornings with Glenn Macnow on WIP. He also wrote a stage play called Tommy and Me about Eagles Hall of Fame wide receiver Tommy McDonald, who Didinger introduced at the 1998 Hall of Fame induction.
An Incomparable Legacy
I interned during the 2006 NFL season at NFL Films as a senior in college. Our work area was right by Didinger’s office so I saw him walk by every day with an Eisenhower coat and briefcase every day. He was friendly and certainly never gave off an air that he was the best-regarded football reporter in a city where the sport became king during his career.
His longevity gave his prominence but didn’t make him pompous. In a town of loud fans and even louder on-air personalities, he was a calm presence with measured perspective and words. His weekend show with Macnow served a contrast to the loud weekday morning show and didn’t belittle callers like other hosts might.
For those of us who work in the media, especially covering the Eagles, he is the measuring stick. While he is an engaging personality and terrific storyteller, he keeps accuracy foremost in his mind and his work. His bio from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book notes he has never had a publisher, network, or studio issue a retraction from his many projects for misinformation.
Didinger will turn 76 in September and enjoy time with his family. It will be odd to watch Eagles coverage on NBCSN and not have that sage on the end of the panel, offering his wisdom earned from years of devotion to the game and rational thought.
That he chose to wait this long to inform us deprived us of having the opportunity to properly laud him, beyond his many awards and Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction, which made him the first sportswriter so honored. However, based on his career and his on-air demeanor, he’d probably eschew the praise in the way so many of our favorites in this town do.