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. banman58

    Dandy's best line was when the camera zoomed in on a Fan, who's team was getting beat badly,and the Fan shot the camera a bird. Dandy said " I think he was trying to tell us his team was # 1". Quick thinking for sure ! We will miss him.

    December 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • carl

      you are damn banman58!!!!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • carl

      dont ever trust him!

      January 3, 2011 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
    • carl

      fuc///k

      January 3, 2011 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. mttrailboss

    Met 'Dandy' Don Meredith a couple of times, once in Los Angles for a Los Angeles Rams-San Francisco 49'er game and once in Las Vegas, Nevada for an UNLV sports event dinner. One of the nicest guys that you would like to know. He was funny, bright, quick with wit and really knew sports, not just football. All sports.. Fascinating guy and lots of fun. RIP.., 'Dandy' Don. Mike in Montana

    December 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HorkusMac

    Dandy Don's signature line in the closing moments for the losing team was legendary – "Turn out the lights- the party's over...." Rest in peace.....

    December 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. southfork

    Lipton Ice Tea man...

    Great matchups between he and Jergensen....the original Redskin, Cowboy rival.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ironhoop

      Agreed. However Sonny Jurgenson was actually originally an Eagle. He went to Washington as part of a then blockbuster trade that sent Norm Snead to Philly.
      Dandy Don was one of the greatest–in sports, acting, in life. I've missed him, Howard, and Frank since the glory days of MNF. RIP.

      December 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jdmintexas

    RIP Don Meredith. A great quarterback (he still holds the single game passing record for the Cowboys) and a fantastic sports commentator. The NFL needs to credit Meredith,Cosell, and Gifford for making professional football the most popular tv sport in the USA. Most importantly, a really decent and good man.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joane Johnson

    My late husbnand and I spent maany a Monday l.istening while watching these guys. When Don started to sing his 'Turn out the light's.......' we knew it was over. Sometimes before half time. lol. those were great times and great years and for those of you who asked which one? Get a grip and a life. If I, a 61 yr old black woman, widow, mother of three and grandmother of four, crazy for GAGA and know's who Biebler and just about anyone else. You could not google just to be sure? On the phone? On the IPod? Blind fold me and I can tell you which was which from their voices.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pepper

    Don played six man football here in Texas. He was known to both throw the ball and catch it on the same play. RIP.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. curtis

    Those old enough will remember singing on MNF
    Turn out the lights the party's over

    December 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Don was a character

    In a Sports Illustrated article about MNF – Don described his role on the show like this: "They pay me to play my drums, and I love it!"

    December 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big Bob

    RIP Dandy Don!

    My first football hero! And I'm a Giants fan!

    December 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. J.

    Goodbye Don. You gave us all a good time and a lot of laughs. Those who don't know which one you are, don't have a clue what they missed. Your name will always cause a smile on a lot of faces.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RickyL

    RIP, Dandy Don, give my regards to Howard.

    December 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jim milligan

    feels like i lost one my best friends man i loved watching him and cosell .well old friendthe lights will never go out on your memery you will be in our hearts forever. thanks for sharing your time with us who loved to see you monday nights

    December 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Citencester

    Turn out the lights the party's over

    December 6, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom M Johnson

    Don Meredith was the man. Football is a game, and his irreverent manner kept MNF in perspective. The world, especially now, needs more characters like Dandy Don. RIP.

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