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. Sussay

    The game has never been the same since those MNF games with Dandy Don and Howard Cosell. This is the passing of an era.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sylvia N

    The world is a better place for having had you in it Don.We enjoyed many MNF games and the banter between you three guys.God Bless/ RIP Don

    December 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cony007

    When football was football. RIP

    December 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • NcoClub

      Amen!! RIP Don

      December 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    I remember that it was MNF that got the womenfolk interested in football. Folksy, good natured, (Don Meredith and Frank Gifford didn't hurt) and the finer points were explained in English. Now all you have in the booths are suits spouting useless overanalyzed data and tired cliches. Collinsworth is the worst, Joe Buck is next. We want Madden! We want Madden! RIP Don, and thanks! Your party's over here, but it's just getting started wherever you are.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Oscarguijo

    Ironically, his most famous game was one that he lost: The (in-)famous Ice Bowl, the NFL Championship Game on New Year's Eve, 1967, between the Cowboys and the Packers. What a game! What a personality! Thanks for the memories, Dandy Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bubblepuppy

    Turn out the lights. The party really is over now.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rumrunner

    the first great Cowboy qb, and a real character! R I P

    December 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. marty mack

    Whether it was on the frozen turf of an NFL championship game against Green Bay or the challenging confines of an announcer's booth, no one showed more grace under pressure than Dandy Don. Watching him and listening to him was always a treat.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Patty Chaney

    How sad........what a GREAT guy! Thoughts & prayers to the Family......I know you will miss him!

    December 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cooper

    I never knew about him too well, but he sounds like a fun guy and someone who really enjoys his work. RIP Don!

    December 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lariatsam

    "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good."

    RIP Don.

    December 6, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sandra

    I watched him play football, and then listened to him comment on the games. Ever the gracious gentleman, and a man of wit. *holds up glass of Iced Tea* To you, Don. RIP!

    December 6, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DonFan

    Dandy Don, you are a legend. You are missed. Thanks for all the memories.

    "Turn out the lights.....the party's over." will live forever....

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

    they say that all good things must end ------party on Don ! ! ! ! !
    because tomorrow starts the same old thing again

    December 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sam

    Turn out the lights...the party's over. Anyone who could put up with the insuffererable Howard Cosell for as long as Dandy Don was able to must surely have a special place in heaven reserved for him. Rest in Peace definitely deserve it.

    December 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
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