Ray Didinger: 'I just want to be remembered as an honest guy'

After 53 years in sports media, the retiring Philadelphia legend's last show on WIP will air on May 29

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Ray Didinger announced his retirement last Sunday on his WIP radio show with co-host Glen Macnow. Since then, responding to the ensuing flood of tributes that came back to him has kept the Philadelphia sports media legend up into the wee hours some mornings.

"The response has been frankly overwhelming," Didinger, 75, told KYW Newsradio in an interview on Thursday.

Listen to the complete interview here:

That overwhelming response speaks to the impact Didinger has made on the Philadelphia sports community — fans, members of the media, athletes, coaches, front office executives — through his 53-year journalism career.

Asked what he thinks his legacy will be, he replied, “People said, ‘How would you like to be remembered?’ and to me it's very simple. I just want to be remembered as an honest guy.

"I wasn't the greatest writer ever, and I certainly wasn't the greatest broadcaster ever. … If people remember me at all, I would like them to just remember me as an honest guy who was a straight shooter and didn't patronize the fans, didn't mislead the fans, always respected the fans and certainly always respected their knowledge."

Didinger says he enjoyed the work he did these past 53 years, because it didn't feel like a job to him. And he did a lot of work — whether as a sports writer at a newspaper, a radio host, a television analyst, an NFL Films producer, an author or a playwright.

What’s more, he did it all without a cell phone or social media.

"It really wasn't hard. I get asked that question a lot: ‘How can you exist?’ ‘How can function in today's world without a cellphone?’ Seemingly okay," Didinger said.

It didn’t stop people from getting in touch with him.

“Occasionally I'll hear from people saying, 'I was trying to get you for God's sakes, but I don't know how to get you. You don't have a cell phone.' I get that. People say that, but not very often,” he said.

“I mean, if people really need to find me, if people really need to get in touch with me, they do. And certainly these last four days have been proof of that. I mean, my goodness, I mean hundreds upon hundreds of emails. I don't know how all these people found my email address. I really don't. But they did. And it's just pouring in."

As for social media, he says it was better for him to stay out.

"I don't know that you can just kinda dip your toe in the water of social media. I think you're either all in or you're all out,” he said. “And I just knew, at my age, I couldn't possibly survive if I went all in. So, I chose to stay all out."

The analog life didn’t leave Didinger unprepared. Every time he was on the radio with Macnow, Didinger would have several books, newspapers and notepads on the desk in front of him. Oh, the notepads. His endless supply of legal notepads became a central part of his personality.

Ray Didinger may be retiring, but Sunday is still for the Eagles

Through his whole career, he says his favorite story to cover was Super Bowl LII, and the hometown champions, your Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a no-brainer, Didinger said.

To him, that was the culmination of a career spent covering Flyers, Phillies, Sixers and Eagles championships in his hometown.

And the special, emotional embrace he shared with his son, Dave Didinger — a professional camera operator working in Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4, 2018 — that was the icing on top.

Of his non-journalistic endeavors, Didinger says his favorite piece of work is "Tommy and Me," the play he wrote about his relationship with Eagles legend Tommy McDonald, a fellow Hall of Famer. It played at the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington last year.

So … what will Didinger do now, with his Sundays free?

You can guess.

"I'm sure I'll still be watching the Eagles," he said — at home now, and probably with his bulldog sitting next to him and a Diet Coke in his hand. "The difference is, I won't be watching it in the studio at NBC. And I won't be in the press box at The Linc. But I'll be watching it.”

He may not be doing any more pre- and post-game shows for NBC Sports Philadelphia — but don’t think for a moment he’s going to give up those legal pads.

“A lot of people ask me, 'What are you going to do with the yellow legal tablets?'” Didinger said.  They'll still be with me. … I guarantee you I will have my legal pad in my lap, and I'll be charting every play, and I'll be writing down every sub package and charting and counting and calculating every third down possession and doing all the same things I've done for the last 50 years — because, at this point, that's the only way I know how to watch a football game!"

Didinger's last show on WIP will be on May 29 — the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. He says he expects it to be tough, but he says he has a lot to look back on.

“It's been absolutely great for the 50 [plus] years [in sports media]. And the 22 years that Glen and I have spent together have been a treasure. And it's something that I will always look back on and feel good about."