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L E’s Stories – “Fair Hooker…Well, I Haven’t Met One Yet!” – Salute To Cowboys QB Dandy Don Meredith

If you have read any of my stories, you probably know by now that I am more than just fond of folks from Texas…..as I have showcased more that a few Texans….cuz there is something that makes all the folks that greet you with a big HOWDY very special…..not just in their talents….but also in their character…..which helps dictate “the character” they are….and we at ImaSportsphile like those “characters”….and today’s story showcases one of those “characters” who went by the name of “Dandy Don”….for this guy was a real “Dandy”.                                                                                                                                

NFL – 1960 Thru 1968 – NFL Films – Don Meredith: “The Original Dallas Cowboy”                                                     

“Dandy” Don Meredith (April 10, 1938 – December 5, 2010) was an American football quarterback, sports commentator and actor….who spent his nine NFL seasons playing career from 1960 to 1968 with the Dallas Cowboys, known as “America’s Team” of the National Football League (NFL)…..when he was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his last three years as a player…..and he subsequently became a color analyst for NFL telecasts from 1970 to 1984….as an original member of the Monday Night Football broadcast team on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC)…..as he famously played the role of Howard Cosell’s comic foil.  Meredith was also an actor who appeared in a dozen films and in seven major television shows…..of which some had him as the main starring actor…..where he is most familiar to television audiences as Bert Jameson, a recurring role he had in Police Story.                                                                           

NFL & Music – Special Tribute To Dandy Don Meredith – With Willie Nelson Singing “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”                                                                                                                                                     

Meredith was born on April 10, 1938 in Mount Vernon, Texas….which is  located approximately 100 miles east of Dallas…..where he attended Mount Vernon High School…..when he starred in football and  basketball…..and performed in school plays….while graduating 2nd in his class.  Even though he was heavily recruited by then-Texas A&M head coach Bear Bryant…..Meredith decided to play college football at Southern Methodist University (SMU).,,,,with his reasoning, likely intended to be more humorous than real, was due to its being closer to home…..as well as the acronym being easier to spell.  At SMU, Don Meredith led the Southwest Conference in passing completion percentage in each of his three years as the starting  quarterback….while being an All-America selection in 1958 and 1959….after which his fellow students jokingly referred to the school as “Southern Meredith University”…..which was due to his popularity on campus…..cuz Dandy Don just had a way about him that drew folks to him.                                   

NCAA Football – 1959 – Highlights Of SMU Vs Navy – Featuring SMU QB Don Meredith Scoring

I have heard many of Bone Daddy’s stories…..and retold more than a few…..but the stories of listening to Kern Tips call the Southwest Conference (SWC) Game of the Week on radio….which BD could pick up on his transister radio every football season on Saturday afternoon / nights…..cuz folks, let me tell you something…..Kern Tips could paint a picture of the game with his words…..he brought the game to life with his talents as a “word merchant”.  Bone Daddy says that he never missed a game when Kern Tips was behind the mike…..oh, and by the way, SWC Football Game of the Week was sponsored by the Humble Oil & Refining Company….which is what West Texas is all about….yep, “cattle and oil”…..“ranch barons and wildcatters” ….and they all loved football.

 

NCAA Football – 1959 – SWC Highlights With Kern Tipps – Featuring Don Meredith + The SMU Mustangs Vs. TCU / Arkansas / A & M / Rice

At the end of his college career, he completed 8 of 20 passes for 156 yards in the College All-Stars’ 32–7 loss to the Baltimore Colts in the Chicago College All-Star Game on August 12, 1960.  He would be honored twice by SMU in later decades…..as the recipient of the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1983…..and having his # 17 jersey being retired during halftime ceremonies at the SMU vs. Houston football game on October 18, 2008.  He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.                       

NFL – 1966 – NFL Championship Game Highlights – Dallas Cowboys Vs Green Bay Packers

The Dallas Cowboys franchise was admitted to the league too late to participate in the 1960 NFL Draft…..so, on November 28, 1959….which was two days prior to the draft….that’s when Meredith signed a five-year personal services contract with Tecon Corporation…..which, like the Cowboys, was owned by Clint Murchison….as he was intending to attend Law school before the deal. This contract meant he would play for the Cowboys if and when they received an NFL franchise.  He was also selected by the Chicago Bears in the 3rd round (32nd overall) of the 1960 NFL Draft….after Bears owner George Halas made the pick to help ensure that the expansion Cowboys got off to a solid start….when  the league honored the contract….but made the Cowboys compensate the Bears with a 3rd-round pick in the 1962 NFL Draft. The truth be known, Don Meredith is considered by many to be the original Dallas Cowboy….cuz he had come to the team even before the franchise had adopted a nickname….or hired a head coach Tom Landry and scout Gil Brandt…..or participated in either the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft or its first NFL Draft in 1961.  Their crosstown rivals in the American Football League, Dallas Texans, also chose him as a “territorial selection” in their 1960 draft….but were too late to sign him.                                       

NFL – 1967 – NFL Films – The Timeline: “The Ice Bowl” – Dallas Cowboys Vs Green Bay Packers – NFL Championship Game

NFL – 1967 – NFL Championship Game – Dallas Cowboys Vs Green Bay Packers – Entire Game Of “The Ice Bowl”                                                                                                                                                                                     

Meredith spent two years as a backup to Eddie LeBaron, eventually splitting time in 1962 before he was given the full-time starting job by head coach Tom Landry in 1963. In 1966, Meredith led the Cowboys to the NFL postseason….which was something he would continue to do until his unexpected retirement before the 1969 season.  His two most heartbreaking defeats came in NFL Championship play against the Green Bay Packers, 34–27 in Dallas in 1966….where he was intercepted on a 4th down passing play….but later admitted it was the coaching issue due to having incorrect personnel and formation on the field….and then came the famous “Ice Bowl” game loss by 21–17 in Green Bay in 1967.  Already feeling physically and mentally fatigued as a leader, he had his worst playoff outing in 1968 against Cleveland Browns in the Eastern Conference Championship game….while throwing 3 interceptions before being benched….which actually led to his retirement in 1969 at the young age of 31.  His successor, Roger Staubach took 3 more seasons to help the team win their 1st NFL championship and Super Bowl.                         

NFL – 1968 – Dallas Cowboys Season Highlights With Frank Glieber – Featuring Dandy Don Meredith + Bob Hayes + Bob Lilly Et Al

 

NFL – 1966 – Dallas Cowboys Highlights – Led By Coach Tom Landry & QB Don Meredith + Bob Lilly

Meredith, while never leading the Cowboys to a Super Bowl, was always exceptionally popular with Cowboys fans…..who remember him for his grit and toughness….along with his outgoing “Dandy” nature…. and his leadership during the 1st winning seasons for the Cowboys. During his career, he had a 50.7 percent completion rate…..while throwing for 17,199 yards and 135 touchdowns (thanks in part to the speed of Bullet Bob Hayes)….with a lifetime passer rating of 74.8.  He was named the NFL Player of the Year in 1966….and was named to the Pro Bowl 3 times.  According to the NFL, the longest pass with no yards after catch (YAC) was his 83-yard pass to Bob Hayes. However, the NFL does not keep statistics on the distance of actual passes.  Meredith, along with Harvey Martin, is among the few players to play his high school (Mount Vernon), college (SMU), and pro (Dallas Cowboys) career in and around the Dallas, Texas, area.                                                                                                                                                                                

NFL – 1973 – Special Intro To ABC’s 1st Ever Monday Night Football Telecast – with Howard Cosell + Dandy Don Meredith + Frank Gifford

Following his football career, Meredith became a color commentator for ABC’s Monday Night Football beginning in 1970….then he left for 3 seasons from 1974 to 1976 to work with Curt Gowdy at NBC….but returned to MNF with his booth partners Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell.  His approach to color commentary was light-hearted and folksy….which was in contrast to Cosell’s observations and Gifford’s play-by-play technique. He was known for singing “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” (a line from a Willie Nelson song, “The Party’s Over”) at garbage time during telecasts.

 

NFL – 2010 – ABC/ESPN’s Special – Tribute To The Legendary Dandy Don Meredith – “Turn Out The Lights, The Party Is Over”

NFL – 2010 – Fox Sports Special – Terry Bradshaw’s Tribute To Dandy Don Meredith – With “Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over”                                                                                                                                                  

Meredith’s broadcasting career was also not without a few incidents of minor controversy…..including referring to then-President Richard Nixon as “Tricky Dick”…..while announcing that he was “mile-high” before a game in Denver…..as well as turning the name of Cleveland Browns receiver Fair Hooker into a double entendre by saying “Fair Hooker…well, I haven’t met one yet!”.  He retired from sportscasting after the 1984 season, a year after Cosell’s retirement. His final broadcast was Super Bowl XIX with Frank Gifford and Joe Theismann….which was the 1st Super Bowl broadcast by ABC.  He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lived in seclusion as a painter until his passing.

 

Comedy & NFL – 1968 – The Dean Martin Show Skit – With Guest Dandy Don Meredith – “The Censors”
 

In 1976, Meredith was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium along with former running back Don Perkins…..which brings up a point that has always stuck in my craw….and that is how the Cowboy fans treated Meredith…..as the disdain that the Dallas fans had was evident by the number of “boo birds” that filled the stadium for Cowboy games….cuz you gotta remember that Meredith inherited the starting QB position late in his 2nd year of play…..which was also the 2nd year of the Cowboys existence in the NFL…..for they were a young expansion team….when in the 7 years that Dandy Don started…..he took them to two NFL Championship games and one additional NFC Conference finals… for in our book here at ImaSportsphile….that is pretty dang good success.                                                                                  

NFL – 1967 – Highlights Of Game Of The Week – Dallas Cowboys Vs. Cleveland Browns – Featuring Dallas QB Don Meredith

The novel North Dallas Forty, written by former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver and Meredith teammate Peter Gent, is a fictional account of life in the NFL during the 1960’s, featuring quarterback Seth Maxwell, a character widely believed to be based on Meredith….and receiver Phil Elliot, believed to be based on Gent…..whereas, Maxwell and Elliot are characterized as boozing, womanizing, aging stars in the twilight of their careers….while being held together by pills and alcohol.  Of the story, Meredith said, “If I’d known Gent was as good as he says he was, I would have thrown to him more.”

 

NFL – 1973 – Author Of “North Dallas Forty” Cowboys TE Pete Gent Talks About Dandy Don Meredith

Meredith was selected as the 2007 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. He received the award at the Enshrinee’s Dinner on August 3, 2007.  It is our Sportsphile accredited opinion that had Meredith continued to play for the Dallas Cowboys until he wss age 36 or 37….he would have won at least one Super Bowl and maybe two……and would have made it to the NFL Hall of Fame….cuz Dandy Don had that much talent and leadership skills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

NFL – 2010 – Radio Interview Special – Dallas Cowboys Sportscaster Extraordinaire Randy Galloway Discussing Don Meredith’s Passing With Walt Garrison

                                                                                                                                                                                      Meredith also had an acting career, appearing in multiple movies and television shows.  From the mid-1970’s through the early 1980’s he was in a series of commercials for Lipton Tea.  He voiced himself in an episode of King of the Hill (“A Beer Can Named Desire”), in which he misses a throw that would have won the main character, Hank Hill, $100,000.                                                                                                                          

TV Ads – 1970 – Dandy Don Meredith For Lipton Ice Tea

 

NFL & Comedy – 1999 – Clip from TV Sitcom King of the Hill Episode “A Beer Can Named Desire” – With Dandy Don Meredith

 

Comedy & NFL – 1969 – The Dean Martin Show – With Dandy Don Meredith + Playboy Playmate Janice

He was also part of an ensemble cast in his son Michael Meredith’s Three Days of Rain (film) with Blythe Danner, Peter Falk and Jason Patric.  One of his earliest film roles was as Kelly Freeman in the 1974 film, Terror on the 40th Floor…. which starred John Forsythe, Joseph Campanella and Lynn Carlin.  Dandy Don’s son, Michael Meredith, who grew up in Fort Worth, is making a documentary about his dad, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, and the team of the 1960’s that did so much to help a region heal after the death of JFK in 1963….as seen in this video below by by Mac Engel of the Ft. Worth /Star-Telegram.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

NFL – 1960 Thru 1968 – Special Interview With Don Meredith’s Son Michael – On Making A Movie About His Dad

One of his recurring starring roles was as Detective Bert Jameson in Police Story. Tony Lo Bianco also had an ongoing role as Det. Calabrese in the same lot of episodes as Meredith. They also appeared as their characters separately in later episodes.  One episode, “The Witness”, features a picture of Don in his Dallas uniform hanging on a wall in Delaney’s bar while Don interviews witnesses to a robbery below his picture.                                                                                                                                                                                 

TV Series – 1975  –  Police Story Episode “The Witness” – With Don Meredith As Detective Bert Jameson

Meredith died on December 5, 2010, at the St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 72 years old…..and was is laid to rest in his hometown of Mount Vernon, TX…..after spending the last                                                                                                                                                                   

News & NFL – 2010 – NFL Network Special – “Remembering Don Meredith”                                                              

While finishing this story about Dandy Don…..let it be said….Don Meredith was “old school great”…..a tough, intelligent, highly competitive, super confident athlete and courageous leader…..who led by example, while willing to “take a bullet” for a teammate or friend….and any way you cut the pie….he was a winner.  Sadly, he wasn’t the kind of quarterback that his coach Tom Landry wanted…..so, they butted heads throughout his entire career…..cuz the truth be known….Dandy Don should have been the starter his 1st two years in the league instead of Eddie LeBaron….but he just wasn’t Landry’s guy.  Now, if Meredith had played coaches like Don Coryell, Bud Grant or John Madden….he might have had a much longer and more successful career…..cuz he hobbled by coach Landry…..but at the end of the day, Don Meredith was worthy in every way of being showcased here in L E’s Stories.                                                                          

NFL – 1938 To 2010 – A Photographic Tribute To Cowboys QB Dandy Don Meredith – Put to Willie Nelson Singing “The Party’s Over”

 

 

 

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