CNN reports that former professional quarterback and “Monday Night Football” commentator “Dandy Don” Meredith died Sunday, Dec. 5, at the age of 72. Meredith died after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma at a Santa Fe, New Mexico, hospital.
Meredith played quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys until he retired at 31 to become part of the original “Monday Night Football” broadcasting lineup in 1970. Although Meredith was a great quarterback, he will be mostly remembered for his on-air antics during “Monday Night Football” and his quirky way of announcing and ending each broadcast.
Meredith was one of the most original broadcasters on “Monday Night Football” and was truly one of a kind. There are a lot of memories I have of Meredith, including when the Houston Oilers were playing the Oakland Raiders in 1974. The Oilers were not doing very well and were getting beaten pretty badly, which angered quite a few fans. A cameraman had panned over to a disgruntled Oilers fan, who made a one-fingered gesture that is obviously obscene toward the team.
Without even missing a beat, Meredith said “He thinks they’re No. 1 in the nation.” This was one of the best moments ever in sports history because we have all seen a fan making obscene gestures, but often do not have the right words to describe it. Usually a broadcaster will just ignore what the fan said or did and move onto another topic, but not Meredith, who was quick to make a comment. Although I was not born when this moment occurred, I remember seeing a clip of it in 2001, when my dad found it on an old video tape. He wanted to show me the tape because he felt I needed to see where “Monday Night Football” came from in the beginning and to see the ability of Meredith as a broadcaster. This video reminded me that, to be good at what you do, you have to be willing to go with the situation and make the best out of it. It was memorable to me because the gesture is so common in sports, and Meredith’s comment just made it unique moment.
I will also remember hearing about Meredith’s last moment in a Cowboys uniform, which was anything but impressive. When I was high middle school, my volleyball teacher showed us a video clip of Meredith during the 1968 playoff game against the Cleveland Browns. Meredith threw three interceptions and was pulled in favor of Craig Morton. I think she showed our team this clip because it proved something important: If you do not have the heart to play, then you will not succeed.
Although Meredith was a great professional football player, by this playoff game you could just tell that he was not enjoying it anymore, and it showed on the field. Meredith ended up retiring soon after that playoff game, which just goes to show he knew when his time was done in football. That video clip taught me an important lesson about playing sports: If your heart is not in the game, your mind will often follow.
It might be hard to give up something you love, but when you are losing and making mental mistakes, it is your body telling you that it is time to move on. This clip really affected me because it showed that, although Meredith was a great athlete, he too had made mistakes and that they ultimately cost his team the playoff win.
Michael Squadron, “Monday Night Football legend ‘Dandy Don’ Meredith dies”, CNN
Susan Montoya Bryan and Jaime Aron, “Cowboys’ Don Meredith dies after brain hemorrhage”, Houston Chronicle