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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soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. bill mason

    i will miss our weekends together cuddling in the park don. all my love, bill

    December 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nickmagallanez

    My Prayers Go Out To His Family,Friends. GOD BE WITH YOU,FAMILY.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. al ribnick

    The Astrodome- nearly empty as the Oilers lose, camera is on a guy shooting the finger- Dandy dosn't miss a beat- "theres another Oiler fan – telling the world his team is # 1." There will never be another quaterback like him- talent and humor

    December 7, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. CHUCK S.

    I remember a particular game when it was raining like hell and one team was beating the stuffing out of the other by a huge margin, so by the second half most of the fans has left the stands. There was not much to say, not much excitement to talk about, so the camera panned around the stands and focused on this one solarity, all alone fan of the losing team, completley soaked with a poncho over his head and with both hands in fists with his body bent over and his chin on the fists. The guy just stared right into the camera as the rain poured. Howard said something like: " I wonder how that poor guy feels right now," and just at that time, without any other motion, that fan raised his middle finger....silence in the booth, followed by howls of laughter, and the Don said "He must think his team is still Number One!!". We will miss you Don.

    December 7, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Stosh

    Watch the movie "North Dallas Forty". While fictional, the quarterback in the movie was modeled after Meredith.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. True Guidance

    Every soul will taste death. The death, which you are running away will surely meet you at exact time and you all will be returned to your Creator. No one knows, when, where and how, he or she will die. This world, which you are sent in, it is temporary and testing place. This world is a house of deception and real and permenant place is the life Hereafter. O children of Adam, (peace be with him) believe in one Allah, His messengers and all His books. If a person wants a real and everlasting peace, tjhen it is only in Islam. May Allah guide all mankind to the true path and save all humans from eternal Hell and make them inheritors of Paradise.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. joe

    A long time ago I found myself seated next to Don at a blackjack table on a cruise ship. I was having a lucky run and he wasn't having any at all. He smiled wryly and said you should bet more. I was playing with 1 dollar chips. Don had a stack of 25 dollar chips. I jokingly told him if I had your stack I would. On the next hand he pushed a 25 dollar chip to my cards. Black Jack. I cashed out and took the family to dinner. Thanks Don. He was an affable no airs gentleman and it was good to have known him. My prayers are with you and your family.

    December 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ed Bailey

    Your memory is golden and don't worry! That comedian dude couldn't ever match your humor!

    December 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RONALD POWERS

    I REMEMBER THE FIRST YEAR SHARING THE QUARTER BACK DUTIES WITH EDDIE LABARON.THE NEXT YEAR YOU BECAMETHE STARTER AND NEVER LOOKED BACK.THE ORGANIZATION BROUGHT IN BIG GUNS LIKE SONNY;JERRY;CRAIG;ROGER; AND THEY ALL WERE SECOND STRING TO YOU.WHEN THE COWBOYS LOST IN THE ICE BOWL WE HURT WITH YA.WHEN YOU RETIRED(WAY TO EARLY) OUR HEARTS WERE BROKEN.DON YOU WERE MY HERO THEN AND MY HERO NOW;RIP AND THANKS FOR THE GOOD TIMES.

    December 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. a fan

    in those early years, there were times before a game when the trainers had to use so much tape on don that he looked like a mummy before he put on his uniform.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
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