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. Cesar

    2nd and 6, Meredith hands to Perkins, Perkins tackled at the 48 yard line. 3rd and 2. Meredith, drops back in the pocket, throws long to Bob Hayes, Touchdown Cowboys! They beat the Packers! And the fans are going wild here in Dallas. Thanks Dandy Don. You were truly great. RIP #17.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. HPNIII

    You done good Dandy, hope to see you later

    December 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Homer Simpson

    i did too! T.E.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Terry

    One of my favorite memories of Dandy Don was during a game, when 2 backs went in motion away from each other. Sort of quietly, Don said "This ain't gonna work."

    December 6, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JohnM

    My favorite quote from Dandy Don after a couple of terrible series of downs for the Cowboys
    "Dadgummit Cowboys what in the world are you doin, you're killin me I tell ya!"

    December 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Evelyn

    Turn out the lights....the party's over. Dandy Don made football fun for me.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Meg Martin

    Good Night Sweet Prince as flights of angels sing thee to thy rest–thank you for that lovely letter all those years ago responding to a friend-you will be missed but always in our hearts. God Speed and love to you and your family.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    Dandy Don was hilarious. Him and Cosell made Monday Night Football and no announcers have had the same impact on the sport since.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Finfan

    Seeing that picture of Cosell, Dandy Don and Gifford – bring back memories of begining of Monday night football – he was one of the greats – a knowledgeable announcer – a dandy gentleman – a credit to the sport – a class guy – not like some of the woman chasing prima donna babies playing today.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Wilson

    CNN said that there was no report on the cause of his death. However..Dallas Morning News is reporting he died of a brain hemmorage and lapsed into a coma.

    Turn out the lights...the party's over was his catch phrase even though another artist sang the song. But that phrase should be on his tombstone.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GozieBoy

    I was honored to wear his No. 17 jersey while at SMU (before they retired it), and was lucky to meet him a few times. Great and unique guy; Monday Night Football has never been the same without him.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tribe Observer

    The telecasts by Dandy Don, Howard Cosell, and Frank Gifford have never been equalled....Howard and Don (whose nickname, "Dandy", was given to him by Cosell) had wonderful running conversations on the air that remain classics.
    We'll miss Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Emily

    We miss you, Dandy Don Meredith ... one of a kind!

    December 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peter (CA)

    The absolute greatest Dandy Don line: One night they were in Houston and the Oilers were getting smoked. The camera panned on a guy who saw he was on camera and flipped them off. Without missing a beat, Don said, "There's another fan who thinks Monday Night Football is number one."

    December 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. spot

    SMU Phi Delts will remember his quote: "ain't no bad party, ain't no bad deal"

    December 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
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