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. jrh512

    RIP Jeff and Hazel's baby boy. Thanks for the memories. My thoughts and prayer's to Don's family and friends.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aileen

    ....All good things... must come to an end.... loved you Dandy Don! RIP

    December 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bet

    Don Meredith was one of the nicest down to earth guys you could ever want to meet. I was friends with a number of the guys on the Cowboys back when Meredith was still the QB, and one day had taken my baby brother & some of his buddies out to watch practice (you could still do that back then). The kids all brought their autograph books & were getting signatures at the end of practice. After my little brother went around the line about 4-5 times to get Don's autograph, he (Don) finally realized this was the same kid making multiple passes. So he says "didn't I just sign your book", at which point my little brother says "yeah, but some guys at school said they'd give me a buck a piece for your autograph". Don just laughed a huge belly laugh & said to me "I guarantee you that kid will never go hungry". He was just a great guy and will be missed deeply by those of us who knew him even if we hadn't seen him much in person in recent years. Love ya Don. You always took the high road!!

    December 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. iceaxedave

    Turn out the lights....the party's over...they say that all...good things must end! Remember him singing that when there was a blow out? Priceless! Good bye Dandy Don!

    December 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kent

    I'll always remember the story where Howard puked on Don's shoes during the broadcast!!! Those were the days...

    December 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dennis F

    Dandy Don is the only 'Cowboy' I ever shed a tear for.....

    December 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. C D Spuckler

    They might a tried usin' a Lipton 'Flo-Thoo' bag to stop the bleedin'. Ever time I operates on the youngin's skulls for demon lettin' and such I uses my Dremel set I got for Christmas last year from the Salvation Army.I'm a fittin' the whole litter this Christmas for iron skull caps with demon vents. My cousin loves her's now, she don't ever wander past the dooryard no more.The festerin' done went away and it healed real even like. We knows our kids'll love 'em too. Old Dandy Don shoulda had his self one. I woulda made him up a special one with emergency lights and a boat horn alarm.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RDD

    He was a great announcer and a great football player, BACK IN THE DAY.
    He will be missed greatly.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MichaelM

    I really have nothing to say that hasn't been said here by many others, but I do want to chime in and add my thoughts about what a fine man he was. As a boy growing up outside of Dallas, I spent many Sunday with a transistor radio up to my ear listening to the Cowboys and Don Meredith. Then later, on MNF, he made everything so much fun. Cosell was all business and often full of himself, but Dandy Don always had that country boy charm and laid back humor. Class act hardly begins to describe him. RIP, Dandy Don. Another hero gone. . .

    December 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Man Christian

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

    December 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JO

    loved me some Tetley's back then.... rip sir...

    December 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brownbear

      "Dandy Don" was great footballer and person. Oh ! by the way, he was a spokesperson for Lipton Tea. Thanks, a retired Lipton employee.

      December 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOJO

      Cosell, was the king, yes he made some mistakes, but overall everyone enjoyed his commentary alone or with Dandy Don!

      December 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill G Soule

    Great team! Howard would say something that would irritate the fans and Dandy would throw a dig at Howard and the fans would laugh. It made the games good, bad, boring and exciting that much more enjoyable.
    Thank you, Dan

    December 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Skee Hee

    I imagine that Don and Howard have already got a good "conversation" going on in heaven.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beware_of_God

      Howard was a lawyer. Do you really think he is in heaven?

      December 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      They're just sitting on a cloud with wings have the mind of a child. Do you also still believe in Santa Claus?

      December 6, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • texcal68

      What heaven?

      December 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

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

    You will be missed Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nancy

    turn out the lights. the party is over. rip, don. you will be missed.

    December 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art In Chicago

      Hear, Hear. It was fun Don. Rest in Peace.

      December 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
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