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. james

    I will truly miss him. Don, say hello to Jesus. This world didn't stop you from believing.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. K

      Jesus is out in the back-yard, doing some landscaping...

      December 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      I'm here... just toking and enjoying the weather.

      December 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Carlos Montes

    Man Christian: You beat me to it but I'll say it anyway ; I' ll never forget tha times when Dandy Don would get into silly arguments with Howard ( just to make fun of Howard) but specially when he would, all of the sudden, sing; " Turn off the lights the party is over ..." my thoughts and prayers are with his family during these very difficult times.
    Rest In Peace Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. K

    DEATH!
    "Are you READY"?

    December 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      Nobody gets out alive.

      December 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. burrito

    Maybe this was a job done by Illegals Mexicans ,we need find a culprit or culprits.That's what everybody does..

    December 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jon

    Dandy Don was one of a kind and he'll be missed.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. miller

    Oh man RIP a lot of people remember him from Broadcasting and being a great QB, but he was a good actor too; I always remember him on an episode of Quincy. And most of all he was my favorite guest star on my favorite TV show:

    Bobby Hill: "Hey Don, I'm a Dandy too!"

    Don Meredith: "You sure are sport!"

    December 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poohpoohman

      If it's your favorite show you should know it's Benny Hill.

      December 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Raveon

    He would've made Super Bowl I or II dandy tastin'. RIP cowboy

    December 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Raveon

    Almost forgot Mac Davis' fictional portrayal of him in North Dallas Forty. Geat take on his Cowboys days, though set a little later.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mikemor

    God Bless you Don Jeff and Hazel have (their baby boy now) may you rest in peace dear sir : MNF was never the same without you.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dusty2701

    Don, you we're a class act on an off the field. The booth and Monday night football was never the same after you left.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      True that.

      December 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Beware_of_God

    He was one of the toughest and most exciting QBs ever. Meredith to Hayes would have been the staple of ESPN highlights each Sunday if ESPN had existed back then.

    December 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. redisgreat

    I was saddened to read the Don passed away. 😦

    December 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Randy Quaid

    The reason no cause of death is listed is because this is the work of the Hollywood Star Whackers! When will this insanity end?

    December 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Actually he suffered from emphesema, then had a stroke, brain hemmorrage,then coma,then death. A fighter to the end! Love yu Don!

      December 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Long time fan in Dallas

    I first recall hearing the fans scream at him as if he was their own son hoping for a miracle pass while I picking splinters out of my 5 year old hands from the Cotton Bowl's benches in 1965. I would grow up to respect him as a hero; flinging passes to neighborhood kids playing in the Front Yard bowls, pretending to be him. I watched in horror as Dr Knight set the broken nose of my hero and he set an example in my eyes as he returned to the game. I was there at the 38-0 Jim Hart led Cardinal victory over the Cowboys as the fans yelled "we want Meredith" and my hero stood on the press box table waving at the fans. Willie Nelson also sang a song that went "My heroes have always been Cowboys.." They still are, it seems. I guess Tex and Tom need a quarterback in Heaven that can put a ball in Bullet Bob's hands... God Bless you, Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Great memory of Don. I believe Bob Hayes was his go to guy. And if Bob was in open field.....well that's all brother! You could NOT catch him. I beleive he broke his nose many times during his career. Truly one of the class acts in the NFL. You will be missed.

      December 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      God, those were great days! How I miss the Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl!

      December 6, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southern

      I remember a game, in 65 I think.....At the old Cotton Bowl....and Don was HOT! All of a sudden Bubbles Cash either came out on the field (Or just paraded in the stands..I forget) and Don called a time out to watch her........Landry had a cow! Lol! Geeze he was so good......and could have even been better if we had had an offensive line....... RIP Dandy Don...we can still see you in the ring of honor......

      December 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andy

    I remember Don telling Howard one night..." If ...'if's, and's and but's' were candy and nuts everyday would be Christmas".

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