Former Dallas Cowboy and Monday Night Football icon Don Meredith, 72, died this morning of a cerebral hemorrhage at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Dallas. His wife Susan, daughter Mary and attorney, Lisa Fine Moses, were at his side. He had been battling emphysema for the past few years, and suffered a minor stroke six years ago.
His nickname, “Dandy Don Meredith,” almost danced the lips of the late Howard Cosell on ABC’s hugely successful Monday Night Football. In the early days of MNF, Meredith, Cosell and Keith Jackson made up a triumvirate that not only ruled the NFL, but also the Monday night network television ratings.
Meredith a quarterback for SMU, was a third-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, who then traded him to the Dallas Cowboys franchise, an expansion team, for future draft picks. Meredith was the original Dallas Cowboy, however, as he signed a ‘personal services’ contract on Nov. 28, 1959, two months before the franchise officially joined the NFL.
It was five years before Meredith finally got the starting quarterback position with the Cowboys, but when he did, he led them to three straight division titles, as well as to consecutive NFL Championship games in 1966 and 1967.
Dallas, however, lost both games to eventual Super Bowl winners, the Green Bay Packers. Hailing from East Texas, the quarterback nicknamed "Dandy Don" had the unique distinction of playing all of his home high school, college and professional football games within 100 miles of Dallas.
Meredith was a two-time All-American at SMU and played for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1968. He led the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL title games. He abruptly retired from pro football at age 31.
On Monday nights, football fans would wait for Meredith’s official pronouncement of the winning team (or the loser), which he would do by belting out, "Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”