Monday Night Football legend 'Dandy Don' Meredith dies
December 6th, 2010
12:09 PM ET

Monday Night Football legend 'Dandy Don' Meredith dies

Don Meredith, an all-pro quarterback who made his greatest impact on the game after he finished playing, died Sunday at a Santa Fe, New Mexico, hospital, according to a spokesman. Meredith, above at center, was 72.

The spokesman was unable to confirm the cause of death.

Meredith, nicknamed "Dandy Don," was part of the original Monday Night Football broadcast team when the program debuted on ABC in 1970.

At that time, virtually no NFL games appeared in prime time, and many at the time thought it would fail because - wait for it, wait for it - women who controlled the TV set at night would not want to watch football. (Digital video recorders could have solved a lot during such TV gender wars.)

But in a then-unprecedented three-man broadcast booth, Meredith and Howard Cosell - joined by Keith Jackson the first year and Frank Gifford (above at right) after that - created a broadcast unlike any other.

Cosell (above at left), a former New York lawyer, and Meredith, the Cowboy from Texas, provided commentary and entertainment that attracted football and non-football fans alike. Their success was chronicled in the 1988 book "Monday Night Mayhem."

Meredith left Monday Night Football in 1984, but the series has run for 40 years - first on ABC, and more recently on ESPN. (Both networks are owned by Disney.)

Before entering the broadcast booth, Meredith played college football for Southern Methodist University and eight years for the Dallas Cowboys. He made three Pro Bowls and was the league's player of the year in 1966.

ESPN plans to run a tribute to Meredith and an interview with Meredith’s longtime announcing partner Frank Gifford at halftime of tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued a statement on his passing in which he called him a "Dallas Cowboys original."

"His wit, charm, and strength of personality were matched only by his wonderful leadership, toughness and athletic skill. His persona defined the Cowboys of the 1960s and set the course for what the franchise became. Throughout 50 years of history, the Cowboys legacy has been built by dynamic and colorful personalities who could also compete at the highest level. No one fit that description better than Don Meredith," he said.

Jones also acknowledged and praised Meredith's transition to his legendary broadcast career.

"After guiding this team from expansion franchise to title contender, his charismatic style helped build Monday Night Football to a level of popularity that was unprecedented for sports television in America," Jones said in the statement.  "Few men have contributed, both on the field and as a broadcaster, to the impact that the NFL currently has on our country today more than Don.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, and his spirit will be with Cowboys players and fans forever."

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Filed under: Football • Sports
soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. Jinda

    You weren't able to find a picture of him by himself? And then you don't even reference which one he is? Not cool.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      He's the guy in the middle.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dhulfiqar

      He's the last guy.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dhulfiqar

      ..right

      December 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • boomer

      don't be hatin just cuz you're not old enough to recognize the legend.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • vonStemwede

      You must be young.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      We all know who he is. If you don't then why do you care. Always someone being negative. R.I.P. Dandy D, you helped make Mondays enjoyable.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • cpope

      RIP Mr Meredith – lots of Monday nights were lots more fun because of you and your cast of characters...... The lights are out, kind sir!

      December 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      The lady got it, Nice Lisa... He IS the one in the middle. Can't believe some of you people.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MIke, Dallas, TX

      I agree with Jinda. You CNN should have shown both a pic of him with the group and then alone... SURELY with a little research you could have found ONE... BUT THAT ASIDE... Rest in peace Don; you were truly an amazing man!!!

      December 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Obvious

      The last line of the first paragraph says "Meredeth, above at center..." Did you even read the article?

      December 6, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Jinda – yes they do – try reading the article again.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janice

      Dandy Don, he was a great guy and great football player, I remeber seeing him so many times at the cotten bowl with my dad. if you ever get a chance to see North dallas 40 with nick nolte, that was who Nick was playing. although they never said it was. but most of the folks in dallas knows.
      He will be missed RIP Don

      December 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • pres46

      It is most appropriate to show him with Cosell and Gifford. you have no idea how much of a cultural phenomenon this show was. Believe it or not, there actually were cultural milestones before you were a teenager. Show some respect.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      The article says he is the one in the center.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max B.

      Actually, Nick Nolte was playing the author, Pete Gent. Mac Davis, playing against character, played Seth Maxwell, who was the Meredith character in the book.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • yanni

      It also identifies Giffor as being on the right and Cosell as being on the left. All three are identified in the article and their place in the picture listed.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandi

      Helps if you read the entire article 😛

      December 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexTeacher

      Don & Howard both gone! 72 still too young for a guy like Don!

      December 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • discripplemation

      really? did you read the article? it says who all 3 men in the pic are. if you're too young to recognize Don, u should at least have been able to narrow the field, Howard had a distinctive..ugliness.. about him that there was no mistaking and Frank is still alive and kicking and seen often enough via Kathy Lee on the Today show, even tho his hair is all gray now. geez, i would have been no more than 5 or 6 when these guys became a regular fixture on t.v., and not in the least interested in football, and i STILL know who he is. and let's not forget the tea commercials!

      December 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • liza

      In the first paragraph it says "pictured above at center". He's the guy in the center.

      December 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • wjk

      All that and no mention of his getting caught cheating on Cathy Lee???

      R.I.P. Don the rest of us would have too!

      December 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUH!

      Hey Jinda, can't you read? from the article "Frank Gifford (above at right).......Cosell (above at left),"
      I guess that only leaves the man standing in the middle! DUH!

      December 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • all i can say is wow

      Just the fact you cant use the process of emlimination to figure it out. How can you not tell which one he is? shoot, i'm only 33 and i knew who he was...why cuz i've seen Howard and Frank before. sheesh.....

      December 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • andmyresponseis..

      If you read the caption below the picture, it says don meredith "center"

      December 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      "Turn out the lights, the party's over"

      December 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • bjk

      The article clearly states , "Gifford (above at right)" and "Cosell (above at left)". Why do you need another picture to to clarify that he is the one in the middle? Da!

      December 6, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hockey is more exciting

      Read the article before you make comments that illustrate your stupidity.

      December 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kiler

      @ wjk:

      They didn't mention that because Kathy Lee was married to FRANK GIFFORD.

      December 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • linda

      He was a great Cowboy as well as a fine man. Sorry to hear of his passing.

      December 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • joebarr

      read the article again,

      "Meredith, above at center, was 72."

      December 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      No offense but if you remember Meredith, you are old enough to not need him to be pointed out in a line up.

      December 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • able2read

      It identifies where he is in the picture in the 2nd sentence of the first paragraph. Geesh

      December 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • skyM

      It references him in the first paragraph, last line. RIP Dandy Don ♥

      December 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dhulfiqar

    lol

    December 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Retired Military in San Antonio

    Yeah......a lot of people only knew Meredith as a member of the MNF broadcast team.......but he was one hell of a QB. He was intrumental in putting Dallas on the football map!

    R.I.P. Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim in Georgia

    I worked with Don in the "Fellowship" and will tell you there was no finer man around. I haven't seen him for many years but the knowledge that he is gone makes me sad. RIP Dandy.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mickey

    "Turn out the lights, the party's over!" RIP Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bonnie

    he's the 1 in the middle...age has nothing to do with recognizing football greats, heck im 23

    December 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    "Turn out the lights... the party's over".

    Really over....

    December 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Stalin

    this news scares me ~ it means i must be getting ready to die also as i am older than don !!!

    December 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trotsky

      Hurry up and die then...I gots to go to the bathroom & you're taking up space.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • TCP

      Hell, we're all gettin' ready to die, Joe!

      December 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Popesays

      Joe,

      Chill out man it's alright.

      December 6, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bulldog2036

    ..Left to right, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Frank Gifford.....

    December 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BC1975

    What a great crew that was. Dandy Don is a legend even amongst us Cowboy dislikers. He was great on that broadcast team–a great sense of humor and a good commentator. We've missed you for 26 years, but will even more knowing that you're gone forever.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Loyal Redskins Female Fan

    May he rest in peace. He was a good broadcaster and little eye candy with Howard did not hurt

    December 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • RANDY

      A WOMAN WITH CLASS, THE LOYAL REDSKINS FEMALE FAN, STAY WARM IT IS COLD IN TENNESSEE..DANDY DON WAS A GOOD MAN !

      December 6, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tm61

    I remember one game, with the Cowboys, and the camera man had picked out the cowboy cheeleader line, and Meredith said, "those girls are keeping the fans up in Dallas", couldnt do that today. someone would get offended.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Junie

    I recognize Cosell right off the bat. Had to study the pic to guess which was Meredith. Bad job CNN.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred McGruff

      Yes, CNN. Bad job recruiting such dumb posters.

      December 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ron Frey

    My father taught Don high school football he was Dons coach in Dallas.

    Rip Don, Dad and now Mom too ..

    December 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy

      Don did not go to high school in Dallas. He went to Mt.Vernon.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Ramsay

      Yeah... he was from Mt. Vernon. He used to say goodnight to his parents, Jeff and Hazel, who lived in MV until there deaths. There is a Don Meredith museum there, and the high school football stadium is named the 'Don Meredith Stadium'

      December 6, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ancient Texan

    One of the best! Good quarterback, fantastic sense of humor, superior knowledge of the game, and a GOOD MAN. RIP Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
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