Don Meredith dies at age 72 after brain hemorrhage
Don Meredith, one of the most recognizable figures of the early Dallas Cowboys and an original member of ABC's “Monday Night Football” broadcast team, died Sunday. He was 72.
Meredith's wife, Susan, told the Associated Press on Monday her husband died in Santa Fe, N.M., after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma. She says a private graveside ceremony is being planned and that family members are traveling to Santa Fe.
“He was the best there was,” she said, describing him as kind, warm and funny. “We lost a good one.”
Meredith played for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1968, becoming the starting quarterback in 1965. Although he never led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, Meredith was one of the franchise's first stars.
Over his nine-year career, Meredith threw for 17,199 yards and 111 touchdowns. He retired unexpectedly before the 1969 season.
Just two years after retiring from football, Meredith joined Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell in the broadcast booth as part of the “Monday Night Football” crew.
He quickly became one of the most popular broadcasters in sports because of his folksy sayings and country humor. Meredith's signature call was singing the famous Willie Nelson song “Turn Out the Lights” when it appeared a game's outcome had been determined.
Meredith left ABC after the 1973 season for a three-year stint at NBC. He returned to the “MNF” crew in 1977 and retired in 1984, one year after Cosell left the team.
Before a generation knew Meredith for his colorful broadcasting career, he was one of the most recognizable figures of the early Dallas Cowboys teams. Meredith was drafted in the third round by the Chicago Bears in 1960 and was traded to the expansion Cowboys franchise for future draft picks.
“Dandy Don,” as he was affectionately known, led the Cowboys to three straight division titles and to consecutive NFL Championship games in 1966 and 1967. Dallas lost both games, though, to eventual Super Bowl winners Green Bay.
In 1966, Meredith guided the Cowboys to their first-ever winning season (10-3-1). He was named NFL player of the year after throwing a career-high 24 touchdown passes and 2,805 yards.
-- Associated Press
Photo: Don Meredith in 1974. Credit: Associated Press