Don Meredith, a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys who went on to become a familiar broadcast voice on “Monday Night Football,” has died. He was 72.
Meredith’s death last night was confirmed by Arturo Delgado, a spokesman for Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He gave no other details.
The Associated Press said Meredith suffered a brain hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma. Meredith had fought emphysema in recent years and suffered a minor stroke in 2004, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“Don was without question one of the toughest people you will ever come across in your life,” said Gil Brandt, the Cowboys’ former vice president of player personnel. “He played with broken ribs and a long list of injuries other guys would never have walked on the field with.”
The man nicknamed “Dandy Don” grew up in Mount Vernon in East Texas and signed a personal-services contract with the Cowboys on Nov. 28, 1959, two months before the franchise officially joined the National Football League.
He was a three-time Pro Bowl pick and won the Bert Bell Award as the NFL’s top player in 1966
Retiring after the 1968 season, Meredith became an announcer on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” telecasts. He was often a foil for fellow broadcaster Howard Cosell and would mark a game-turning play by singing the country-western tune, “Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over.”
Cosell called Meredith “Danderoo.”
“One of the most important things to the success of the NFL was what Don and Frank (Gifford) and Howard did with ‘Monday Night Football,’” Brandt said in a telephone interview. “They brought a whole new audience to our game. Women started watching. It was just a new way of watching football altogether.”
Gifford said in a statement that he suggested when Meredith retired as a player that he talk with Roone Arledge at ABC Sports about a “new project Roone had in mind, prime-time football on Monday nights.”
“To say that Don was an instant success would be an understatement,” Gifford said. “We spent a lot of years together, not only on ‘Monday Night Football’ but in sharing so much of our personal lives.”
The last time Brandt spoke to Meredith was two years ago. When Brandt asked Meredith what he did to occupy himself during his retirement, Meredith said, “I have a tee-time at 11 a.m. every morning.”