Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
A sports journalist for the Philadelphia Daily News, Ray Didinger has been elected to the writers division of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Awards: Football Hall of Fame
Ray Didinger has reported and analyzed football through several media. He began his professional career with the Philadelphia Bulletin in 1969 before moving on to the Philadelphia Daily News in 1980. In 1996, he joined NFL Films. He has received several honors for his journalism and documentaries, including Emmy Awards and recognition by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Has also has written and edited several books about football. Didinger has done a large part of his work in the Philadelphia area, specifically about the Eagles, and is nationally acclaimed.
Ray Didinger unknowingly encapsulated his career in a single statement. While discussing offensive philosophies in football he asked, "If you can do two things well, isn't that better than just being able to do one?"
Didinger has reported and analyzed football through every conceivable medium. This achievement has grown throughout a lifetime of passion for sports. Ray Didinger was born to Raymond and Marie Didinger on September 18, 1946, in Philadelphia. He became interested in sports at a young age through the Chip Hilton Series. William "Chip" Hilton is a character in a series of books by Clair Bee. Chip was the classic, "All-American" high school athlete with off-the-field motivation and ideals to match. "I was hooked on sports," Didinger said of reading the series, "and I've stayed that way ever since." Another influence came from his avid reading of columns by Sandy Grady in the Philadelphia Bulletin.
This interest was not simply a hobby to pass time for Didinger, as he received his B.S. in Communications from Temple University in 1968 after graduating from St. James Catholic High School in Chester, Delaware County. From 1968-1969, he covered sports for the Delaware County Daily Times. Two years later at the age of 23, Didinger took over the pro football beat at the Philadelphia Bulletin after reporting on high school sports there. He worked at the Bulletin from 1969-1980 and the Philadelphia Daily News from 1980 until 1996, when he made his transition to TV and film by joining NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J. He is now a senior producer there.
During his years at the Bulletin, the Daily News, and NFL Films, Didinger has written and edited several books about football. These books include, among others, Football America: Celebrating Our National Passion, Game Plans for Success: Winning Strategies for Business and Life from Ten Top NFL Head Coaches, and The Eagles Encyclopedia.
Didinger wrote and co-produced "Winning is Living and Losing is Dying: The George Allen Story," which appeared on ESPN. Sports Illustrated chose the work as the best sports documentary of 2001. Didinger also wrote and produced a documentary biography of one of his favorite coaches, Dick Vermeil, entitled "Dick Vermeil: A Coach for All Seasons," for which he was awarded the Best Biography of 2000 at the Aurora International Film Festival.
These awards are certainly not the only ones of Didinger's career. He has won four Emmy Awards for his work on "NFL Films Presents" and the Turner Network's "Football America." Didinger has been named Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year five times. He has won six Keystone Press Association Awards for feature writing, three Philadelphia Press Association awards for reporting, and three Associated Press awards for column writing. In 1991, he won the Pro Football Writers of America award for outstanding feature story about dissension amongst the 1990 Philadelphia Eagles, their last year under head coach James "Buddy" Ryan.
In 2005, Philadelphia Magazine named Didinger Best Sports Radio Personality in their "Best of Philly" issue for his Saturday afternoon show with co-host Glen Macnow on WIP 610 AM. Didinger is also a panelist on "Post-Game Live," a Philadelphia Eagles post-game show that includes former Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former NFL running back Vaughn Hebron. The show received a 2005 "Best of Philly" award for Best Local TV show.
His most notable recognition is his inclusion in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In 1995, he won the Dick McCann Award for "long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football," thus earning his spot on the Writer's Honor Roll. In 1998, Didinger introduced former Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver Tommy McDonald at his Hall of Fame enshrinement.
During the football season, Didinger writes "A View from the Hall," a weekly column for Comcast Sportsnet's website. Currently he is working on two one-hour shows for the NFL Network's series entitled America's Game. The series features shows on each of the 40 Super Bowl winners, Didinger's being on the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins.
In a field that has become consistently more egocentric in regard to media personalities, Ray Didinger is a true professional. He possesses astonishing knowledge of the game and its history. While watching film of the 1972 and '73 Dolphins, he knew from which year the unlabeled tape came, just from noting the left offensive tackle, who was moved to that position after playing right tackle on the undefeated 1972 team.
He cares about sports to a unique degree. Above all of his numerous and prestigious accolades, Didinger values his accuracy and ability to correctly report facts, which he believed is principal in journalism. Many shows and columns today focus on entertainment rather than information and sometimes exaggerate and misinterpret reality and fact. In his career, no newspaper, publishing company, or studio has ever run a retraction of misinformation contained in his work.
While the opening paragraph of this biography is true, it may be misleading. Ray Didinger does far more than two things right; he devotes his full effort to every task.
Ray Didinger now lives in Philadelphia with his second wife Maria Gallagher.
Eagles Encyclopedia. (with Robert Lyons) Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2005.
Football America: Celebrating Our National Passion. (with Don Shula) Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc, 1996.
Plans for Success: Winning Strategies for Business and Life from Ten Top NFL Head Coaches. (editor) Atlanta: Little, Brown, & Company, 1995
The Super Bowl: Celebrating a Quarter-Century of America's Greatest Game. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Didinger, Ray. Personal interview. 13 Feb. 2006.
"Ray Didinger." The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors online. 26 Feb. 2006. 19 Sept. 2011.