David and Ray Didier finally watched their first Eagles game together in 49 years

David and Ray Didier finally watched their first Eagles game together in 49 years

David Didinger grew up on the Veterans Stadium turf. He grew up in the press boxes, taking the rickety Vet media elevator down to field level after seeing his famous father, Ray, before going to work. David watches games from the mouth of the visitors’ tunnel with a security guard, since his mother is an Eagles’ cheerleader.

He grew up with the 1980’s Philadelphia Eagles.

He watched the Eagles everywhere, through his own eyes from the Vet stadium carpet, and through a television cameraman’s perspective. He watched the Eagles everywhere except sitting next to his father.

Last Sunday, after 49 years, that changed.

Planted next to his father on a sofa in Ray’s den, David and Ray, who just turned 76, watched their first Eagles game together. They had the opportunity to sit and laugh, and jeer, and scream, and do what fathers and sons do when they watch the Eagles.

Didingers scored in the Eagles’ 38-35 season-opening win over the Detroit Lions in front of NFL Films cameras.

It was unique, retelling old stories, cheering each other on, and most of all using a sport and team they grew up loving.

Their eyes never left the screen. You’re not just watching a football game with Hall of Fame running back Ray Didinger. You better wear a lab coat, because he sees the game as a chemistry that goes on cultures in a Petri dish.

“You know, after all these years, I knew that my father took out the legal papers and checked all the plays, but I didn’t sit down and actually see him do this first hand, ” said David, 49, laughing as he did. The boys continued to write in great detail about what the Eagles were doing on second down to 24. “This is amazing.”

Then David and his father joked, “You know on NFL.com, you can see all of this.”

“You know David, I have my own system and it took me 53 years to fix it, don’t ask me to turn the clock back,” his father replied.

It felt strange to Ray not to work. He kept to his routine. After 50 years of drama, there is no other way to watch a game. David joked with his father that he didn’t mark any of David’s top games at Cherry Hill East.

And then, Ray, always awesome, made a good point at a crunch time early in the game about the Eagles having problems in the red zone and on third down; how the Eagles defense continues to be empty and not attacking the line of scrimmage.

Why didn’t this happen to the Eagles who have better defenders? David and Ray thought aloud.

David and Ray explained the plans for the Tommy McDonald Hall of Fame. The late Eagles Hall of Famer wanted to throw his brass trumpet in the air and catch it. Being the old schooler that he was, Ray scoffed at the idea. He thought he had convinced his friend that this was not the way to go.

“Hey, that’s great!” David suggested.

“I tried to convince Tommy to read his speech and go sit down. That’s the way to do it,” Ray said, shaking his head. “I told Tommy that all of this was a bad idea. Then David came in and said, ‘That’s great.’ and I knew there was no hope. Tommy thought it was a great idea.”

Then the two returned to a classic Didinger story. David was about 12 years old and Ray was still playing in an adult baseball league.

“I’m not the voice of reason,” David said, laughing. “This guy (Ray) was hit during the men’s league baseball game with a pitch and the guy who threw that day was throwing gas. There was that empty sound like a ball hitting an empty barrel. I mean, by the time my dad got back to the boat, his ribs were purple and you could see them. Baseball stitches on his ribs.

“So, we’re going back to my great-grandfather’s place (Ray’s grandfather). My father ordered me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t tell my grandmother that I got hurt!’ I said, ‘ Okay, right.”We walked in and my grandmother asked, ‘How was the game?’

“I turned to my dad and said, ‘Show him where you hit.'”

Ray shook his head at the memory. The commercial break is over and they have returned their attention to the game.

David lives in South Jersey with his wife Christine and their two college-age daughters, Hailey and Kaitlyn. He is a national network photographer for NBC Sports, shooting Notre Dame football on weekends and Thursday Nights for Amazon Prime Video, which uses the NBC Sports production crew for their broadcasts.

It was not always easy for David, who rose to his permanent position.

For eight years, he worked part-time as a UPS driver 15 hours a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., for health benefits. He was able to work weekends for NFL films and being local allowed him to shoot Flyers, Phillies and Sixers games. Games are often late, and David gets a few hours of sleep. He was still at UPS the next day. The hours weren’t great, David said, but so were the people.

In 2022, he made the national network jump on Thursday Night Football with Notre Dame. He shot 24 Super Bowls and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“I’ve been waiting to watch a game with my dad forever,” David said, “but it never occurred to me that I’d never watched an Eagles game with my dad before. .

“The last game he and I watched was Super Bowl 30 between the Cowboys and Steelers in 1996. In Super Bowl 31, we both worked at NFL Films. When I thought about it for a second, when he announced his retirement, we didn’t watch an Eagles game together. We must do this.

“When I was little, he was in the press box and I was down on the field. When I got older, we both worked. We were on the same field together. We were once for the Eagles’ Super Bowls in Jacksonville in 2005, and in Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII in 2018.

“But Super Bowl LII was the first time I saw my dad as a fan, when we hugged a little bit. That was the kid who used to watch Eagles games with my grandfather in the Division. EE at Franklin Field comes out 60 years later.

Ray covered every Super Bowl from 5 to 30, and since then, three more Super Bowls, including two appearances by the Eagles. A combined father and son who covered at one point or another 53 Super Bowls.

They shared one father-son moment that was heard in the Delaware Valley when Ray hugged David, and whispered “It’s for Pop,” referring to Ray’s father, after winning the Eagles at Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

“For half the time, I worked when David was young, and when David got older, we both worked,” said Ray. “When I was working, David was always there. When the game started, I went to work.

“I am very proud of David. He worked hard for what he is now. David worked two jobs and worked long hours. He worked for UPS during the day and shot at night, trying to get some sleep somewhere. Then he should find time to be a good husband and a good father. Honestly, I really don’t know how he did it all those years.

“It was amazing. What is even more remarkable is that most people make that complaint all the time. Working all those hours, people tend to let everyone around them know they don’t like it. David never did. It just worked. He never complained. He is one of the most interesting people to know. The one thing that everyone at NFL Films and NBC keeps saying about David is how much fun he has.

“That’s just David. Its consistency is remarkable. The last time I was at NBC Sports, guys came up and said they would love to work with my son. That makes me feel good. It’s just David’s attitude. David is amazing.”

Ray Didinger seems to have written more than the best stories.

“I can’t thank you enough for that. But they are the true joy of my life, my children, David and Kathleen, and my grandchildren,” Ray said. “I’m proud of how they became good people and good parents. My pride in those kids, that’s what I’m thankful for more than any other story I’ve written.

“Now, I finally get to sit down and watch an Eagles game with my son.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sports writer based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature articles for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special work for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is best known for his award-winning ESPN.com commentary on high school wrestler AJ. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Fight Writers Association of America.

Philly’s beloved Ray Didinger game show, Tommy and Me, chronicles a pivotal moment in Ray’s life when he helps his lifelong hero enter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tommy was drafted by the Eagles in 1957 and played with the team until 1964.

Is Ray Didinger in the Hall of Fame?

Is Ray Didinger in the Hall of Fame?

Didinger also has seven books to his name, including the Eagles Encyclopedia. To see also : O-zone: Great pride. Didinger was named the Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year five times, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, and was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Who will replace Ray Didinger? One is a familiar voice to WIP listeners and the other is a veteran sports writer. Philadelphia Inquirer sports writer Mike Sielski and veteran sports announcer Jody McDonald have been tapped to replace the recently retired Ray Didinger as Glen Macnow’s partner on the popular SportsRadio show. 94 WIP on a weekend afternoon.

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What happened to Ray Didinger? On May 8, 2022, during his radio show, Didinger announced his retirement effective May 29, 2022. He said he is in good health and has not been pushed out the door, the he will work until the end of his contract and then retire from radio. and television. Didinger said he wants to spend more time with his wife and family.

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