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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Don Meredith dies; former Dallas Cowboys quarterback was 72

By Cindy Boren

mnf.jpg
Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on "MNF." (ESPN / ABC photo)

Don Meredith, the legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback and memorable "Monday Night Football" commentator, died Sunday night at the age of 72 in Santa Fe, N.M.

Meredith, who had emphysema and suffered a minor stroke in 2004, died at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, a hospital spokesman told the Dallas Morning News this morning. Meredith's wife Susan and daughter Mary were by his side, according to the family's attorney, Lisa Fine Moses. Susan Meredith said her husband had had a brain hemorrhage and had fallen into a coma

"He was the best there was," she said. "We lost a good one."

"Don Meredith was one of the most colorful characters in NFL history. He was star on the field who became an even bigger star on television," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "He brought joy to football fans, from his play in historic NFL games like the Ice Bowl to his great personality that helped launch the success of Monday Night Football."

"Dandy Don" was the original Dallas Cowboy, signing a contract Nov. 28, 1959, two months before the team was admitted to the NFL and, as the Morning News points out, played his home high school, college and professional football games within 100 miles of Dallas -- a fact that was audible in his Texas twang on "MNF."

"I'm very thankful," Meredith, who rarely gave interviews after leaving the broadcast booth in 1984, told a Morning News reporter in late 2009. "I'm very thankful about where I'm from and who I am."

A two-time All-American at SMU, Meredith's pro career was relatively brief, lasting from 1960 until 1968. He passed for 17,199 yards and 111 touchdowns and led the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL title games, losing both times to the Green Bay Packers (the second time in the "Ice Bowl)." He walked away from the game at 31.

"I tried to talk him out of it," Cowboys Coach Tom Landry said, "but when you lose your desire in this game, that's it."

Meredith joined "MNF" in 1970, serving as a foil for Howard Cosell and crooning "turn out the lights, the party's over" when a game was out of reach. Always, he was true to his Mount Vernon, Texas, roots.

"My home is in Santa Fe, but I'm gonna always be from Mount Vernon," he said. "I like that a lot."

By Cindy Boren  | December 6, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  NFL  
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Comments

Cindy! Please proof read your stuff before you post it!! Check your fourth paragraph!!

Posted by: pussntoots | December 6, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks. This is a breaking news blog, hence there will be typos that will be cleaned up as the post grows, links are added, etc.

Posted by: Cindy Boren | December 6, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Rest in Peace Dandy Don. I loved when he was on Monday Night Football.

Posted by: JKJ88 | December 6, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

JKJ88, he was terrific, wasn't he? He and Cosell were great together.

Posted by: Cindy Boren | December 6, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

May God bless you and your family Dandy Don.

Posted by: thorhero | December 6, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

he was great fun to listen to. not the brightest bulb, but very humorous and easy.

Posted by: newagent99 | December 6, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in Dallas in the '60s, and my dad and I attended many a Cowboys home game at the Cotton Bowl. Rest in peace, Dandy Don.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | December 6, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

He also had a brief TV career as an actor, played a police detective or some such as I recall...wasn't too bad. Always seemed like a charming man, good natured.

The book/movie North Dallas 40 shows some of the dark side of professional football, and may suggest why he left relatively young.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 6, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to his family.

Dandy Don Meredith, as Howard Cosell called him, was highly memorable and very funny. Once, when a fan made a common gesture to the roving TV camera, Dandy Don instantly said "that's just his way of saying 'we're number one'". His ribbing of the bombastic Cosell, and their bickering back and forth in the booth, made Monday Night Football memorable and an institution for years. RIP, Don Meredith.

Posted by: dcc1968 | December 6, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Man, I feel like my favorite uncle just died. I came of age with Dandy Don and Howard Cosell ribbing each other on Monday night football. God bless both of them for being such great personalities and leaving me with great memories.

Posted by: dparks2 | December 6, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Although I Loathe and detest the Cowboys I liked Don on the Original Monday Night Football.

I would especially like it when he would sing the song "Turn out the lights the party's over!!" This song would signify the fact that the game is all but over for the losing team and there was no chance for a come back. R.I.P. Don!!

Posted by: 70chiponwhite | December 6, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Condolences to his family. Who could ever forget him singing "Turn out the lights the party's over" on Monday night football? You left us way too soon, Don.

Posted by: slim21 | December 6, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to imagine today, with all commentators being homogeneous in style, and basically bland as toast; how much Cosell and Meredith changed broadcast TV. They were as big as the game, perhaps bigger. MNF was the top of the mark from 1970 to 1980. When Cosell did the "Halftime Highlights", it was the sports high point of the week. It seems so ancient now.

Also, Meredith was a great interview. After the Ice Bowl loss, he spoke to Frank Gifford on prime time for about 15 minutes. He showed charm, class, and grace. Sort of like T.O. and the rest of today's athletes.

Posted by: hmgcpa52 | December 6, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

if you are a die-hard Texan as I am you have to love Dandy Don and Willie.(its against Texas law not to!!) Great memories of MNF.i remembered he said he loved the oiler fans and astrodome. God bless him and his family(although never was a cowboy fan except for DD. Go Oilers and Texans!)

Posted by: lindaboo65 | December 6, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

As far as I'm concerned "Dandy Don" was Monday Night Football. Cosell got the publicity but Meredith was the real deal.
Fond memories!

Posted by: thehamptons1 | December 6, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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

Posted by: mssnatchquatch | December 6, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

What a great man and quarterback! "Meredith to #22, Bob Hayes....Touchdown!!!" He played when football was still football!

Posted by: bigisle | December 6, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

RIP Dandy Don.
Sure enjoyed you and Howard back in the 70's during the Steelers Chuck Noll glory days.

Of course, the Mike Tomlin glory days are pretty good, too. Am I right, Steeler nation?

Posted by: spro | December 6, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Dandy Don,
Unforgettable, semper! And you are also eternally correct: "IF It's and But's WERE candies and nuts, it WOULD be Christmas every day."

Posted by: brcCO | December 6, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

He used to terrify the Redskin secondary with Bob Hayes running those hook and go routes where he used to hit Hayes(an olympic gold medal sprinter)in stride and Hayes would leave the slow footed Skin's secondary in the dust. He was hilarious on MNF with Cosell who would often refer to Meredith as the "Danderoo". God grant him eternal light and let the angels take him home.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 6, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Now Lets Go To The Dandaroo"

Thanks for the memories Don, RIP

Posted by: Defund_NPR | December 6, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Much as I disliked the Cowboys, I thought Meredith and Landy had class and were good guys. May he rest in peace, he left us far too early. God Bless!

Posted by: jwkoest | December 6, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

RIP Dandy Don. Thanks for all the memories on and off the field.

He very nearly got the Cowboys into the first two Super Bowls.

Let's not forget that he was a pretty decent actor on top of being a good football player and announcer.

Posted by: Rockman2 | December 6, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Am I correct? Did he not say once that the most frightening word in the English language is "linebacker and that the hardest hit he ever took was by Chris Hanburger? In my opinion, the networks have yet to find an adequate relacement for him.

Posted by: andrewsesq | December 6, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Am I correct? Did he not say once that the most frightening word in the English language is "linebacker and that the hardest hit he ever took was by Chris Hanburger? In my opinion, the networks have yet to find an adequate relacement for him.

Posted by: andrewsesq | December 6, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Well here you go Don........"turn out the lights the party .....is over ......."

Loved to watch MNF with Dandy Don, Frank, and Howard Cosell.......the BEST MNF crew ever....

God Bless Dandy Don.........

Posted by: allenridge | December 6, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I am truly sorry to hear about "Dandy" Don's death. Like most, my most cherished memories of him are on Monday Night Football as the jocuse sportscaster who, while working with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, transformed MNF from being just a football game into prime time TV entertainment, and his free-spirited good ole boy QB character, played by Mac Davis, from the movie "North Dallas Forty."
RIP Dandy Don.

Posted by: lwilliamson1 | December 6, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember Don Meredith playing football,just the MNF team . I do remember his joking,with Howard and his singing.He was a naturally good actor.RIP, "Dandy Don"!

Posted by: lnyk | December 6, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm A Redskin Fan....
That said...

I'll forever miss you Don.
Heaven's been waiting for you to come home.
From the lights out to enternal light..
You were ahead of your times in so many ways.
You were a good soul
RIP

Posted by: RaphaelRG | December 6, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The Ice Bowl was the first game I really remember as a kid. And Monday Night Football would never have been what it was without Dandy Don and Howard Coe Sell.
So, another icon goes to his reward. Thanks, Mr. Meredith.

Posted by: daskinner | December 6, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Sad day. I worked with Don an a TV Movie back in 1987 -- "Police Story: The Freeway Killings". Angie Dickinson, Richard Crenna, Ben Gazzara, Tony Lo Bianco, Gloria Loring -- all old pros, they just loved him as did the crew. Yeah, good times. Don was a true gentleman and a real blast to be around. RIP Don, AKA Detective Foley.

Posted by: BadNews | December 6, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

HOWARD COSELL: "And that touchdown was perfect revervification for everything that happened before."

DON MEREDITH: "I don't know what you just said right there, Howard, but ...."

Posted by: bs2004 | December 6, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Don was a larger than life personality in Dallas and at his alma mater SMU. He will be missed and mourned. He had the same wild streak that most 1960's era NFL quarterbacks showed (ask Sonny and Billy), but was never venal. Good night Irene!

Posted by: genericrepub | December 6, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

RIP Don Meredith. Even though he played for those god-for-saken Cowboys, he was quite a QB. Number 17 with that cool single bar facemask. At least until Sam Huff, who had a personal vendetta, got a hold of him and kept braking his nose. Then he wore a full cage. Remember that? It was Meredith vs. Huff. That was the original Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. Seems they would split each year. Cowboys kept getting better while the Redskins stayed under .500. But those games were classics. Too many times we hear that the rivalry started in the George Allen years. Meredith vs. Huff. That’s where it started.

Posted by: Overtime58 | December 6, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse


Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith were the best combination. Frank Gifford could not hold a candle to Keith's broadcasting abilities.

Those were the days when football was still a team sport and not just 22 actors on the field. Today's game isn't nearly as entertaining as "back in the day."

My best to the Meredith family. He was truly a wonderful person to watch. I only wish I could have met him in person.


Posted by: mortified469 | December 6, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

One of the most likeable and enjoyable TV commentators that the Cowboys ever produced...and that's coming from a diehard 'Skins Fan! RIP, "Dandy!"

Posted by: ntlekt | December 6, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

For those too young to remember the MNF crew of Cosell, Meredith and Gifford, you missed quite a show. Cosell and Meredith had greatest chemistry in the history of broadcasting because they were almost complete opposites. The obnoxious, pompous Brooklyn lawyer and the easy going country boy were just perfect together. Cosell did the halftime highlights back in the day when there wasn't any ESPN, internet, etc., so the viewers hadn't seen highlights of many of the games until Cosell delivered them. If you think the current ESPN team is good, you didn't see the real deal back in the 70s.

Posted by: randysbailin | December 6, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse


Dandy Don MADE MNF what it is today... The subsequent staffs after him, pale by comparison... RIP Don...

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Posted by: shoestrade05 | December 6, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the video, Cindy. I really enjoyed watching MNF with Meredith on. He made the game exciting to watch.

Posted by: RedCherokee | December 6, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Don Meredith provided Monday Night Football with great color commentary, and served as a much needed balance to Howard Cosell's irritating "know-it-all" attitude.

Who can forget when players and the names of the universities they played for were being called - and when Otis Sistrunk's name was called, Don quipped "From the University of Mars."

Posted by: Yank_in_Vietnam | December 7, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

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