Don “Dandy Don” Meredith died in Santa Fe, NM, on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, from a brain hemorrhage. He was 72. Meredith’s wife, Susan, and their daughter were by his side when he died, according to ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth.
What I will remember the most about Dandy Don was sitting on my father’s lap as a child and watching the Dallas Cowboys with my Dad. My dad brainwashed me to love the Cowboys, and Meredith was one of the reasons why.
It was after Meredith left the Dallas Cowboys and pursued a broadcasting career that he further influenced what my father and I enjoyed. My dad and I loved to watch Monday Night Football and rarely missed a single game. But once Meredith and his counterpart, Howard Cossell left, Monday Night Football was not high on the priority list, unless, of course, the Cowboys are playing.
Meredith will long be remembered as a star both on the football field and in the broadcast booth. He would hold court in the broadcast booth with Cossell and Keith Jackson as part of the “Monday Night Football” crew. Frank Gifford replaced Keith Jackson and the chemistry between them helped the program become the icon that it is today. Dandy Don’s down-home humor was the perfect foil to Cossell’s narratives.
Meredith played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1968. He became the starting quarterback in 1965. Though the Dallas Cowboys never made it to the Super Bowl while Meredith was quarterback, he became one of the first stars. He led the Cowboys to three straight division titles and two NFL Championship games in 1966 and 1967. They were defeated both times by the Green Bay Packers, who went on to win the Super Bowl both years.
During his nine-year professional career, Meredith threw for 17,199 yards and 111 touchdowns. His career also included two All-American seasons at SMU before he was drafted by the Chicago Bears. It was shortly after that he was traded to a new franchise, the Dallas Cowboys, and began a career that would pave the way for superstars such as Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman to follow. Dandy Don was the second person to be honored on the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium ring of Honor in 1976, along with Don Perkins.
Along with his football and broadcasting career, Meredith enjoyed acting. He had a recurring role in “Police Story,” which originally aired from 1973 to 1975. He was also in the 1994 movie “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” and his final appearance was in the movie “Three Days of Rain,” released in 2002.
When a Monday Night Football game was nearing the end, Don Meredith would sum it up with a few bars from a Willie Nelson song. Today, for one last time, I salute Don Meredith by singing: “Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over.”