Blog Entry

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Posted on: December 6, 2010 10:55 am
Edited on: December 6, 2010 11:17 am

It seems only appropriate that when Don Meredith left us he did it on a Monday. It was Meredith who helped make Mondays memorable, and it is Meredith who helps make this Monday unforgettable -- albeit for a sad reason.

Meredith changed the NFL as much or more than the league's competition committee, players' union or commissioner because he helped changed the culture of the league, popularizing the sport by delivering it to millions of people who never were exposed to it. Along with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell he brought the game into our living rooms once a week -- at night, no less -- and made the experience so attractive that, eventually, we discovered we couldn't live without Monday Night Football.

He explained things we didn't understand. He gave us insight into coaches and players. He questioned play calls. More than anything, though, he brought the game to our level, unafraid to infuse humor into a humorless sport. When ABC drew a Monday night stinker, it was Meredith who came to the rescue with his "turn out the lights, the party's over" serenade. And when Cosell tilted to the profound or intellectual or downright bombastic it was Meredith who brought him back to the planet Earth with comic relief.

He wasn't just Don Meredith. He was Dandy Don, the Danderoo, and it was wise never to challenge him in a game of wits -- which, of course, Cosell would. But that's what made the Monday Night experience so entertaining. You were never sure what you were going to get, but you were certain it would be worth experiencing.

So a game might bomb. The broadcast crew wouldn't.

Monday Night Football was Don Meredith, Cosell and Gifford, and it never really recreated the magic in that booth oh, so many years ago. The combination was perfect, and it was Meredith who made sure the three never lost their balance. You couldn't question his credentials because, unlike someone like comic and Monday night flop Dennis Miller, he played the game, and he played it well. So he knew what he was talking about.

But he mixed that knowledge with good ol' boy humor and made what was going on in the booth as attractive as what was happening on the field. When he died Monday he took a piece of Monday Night Football ... and our best memories of it growing up ... with him, and it's difficult for anyone growing up in the 1970s not to feel the loss.

Turn out the lights. This time the party really is over.

Category: NFL

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2010 2:59 am

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

What was most telling was that Don always had a good sense of timing. He always knew when the party was over in real life.

He left the Cowboys after they had drafted 2 QBs that would later take teams to the Super Bowl in Craig Morton and Roger Staubach. But the offense never was as explosive as it was with him at the helm. And most people never remember (or were around to see) how good Morton was before he hurt his shoulder in 1968. And he still was able to get Denver to the Super Bowl in 77.

Everyone knows how good Roger was and what he was able to do. But if Don had been healthy and would have put up with the bad fans who would boo a team that fell just short three years in a row, he would have made a Super Bowl and could have won the dad gum thing.

And Don left Monday Night Football at the top of his fame and did not hang around as the booth seemed to get a little stale. It really went flat without his wit and honest outlook.

lf you never saw him play, you missed one of the best ever. As outstanding as he was in the booth, he was better on the field.

Good night, Dandy Don.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:39 am

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Society was much more tolerant then?  Are you nuts?  Yes people smoked on the Tonight show but I don't think anybody was drinking in the TV booth.  I mean you can say "ass" on TV now - do you think you could do that back then?  Cosell got in trouble for calling a player a monkey...

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2010 9:45 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

A little trivia on 'Dandy Don Meridith':
He was once 'trade bait' to the Packers for - Bart Starr.

And those silly yellow ABC blazers..

Didn't matter. We still kept watching ..

Prayers and condoences to the family. Memories are
hard to break!

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:30 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and the entire Cowboy family. He was universally loved and respected. Packer Nation has lost a kindred spirit in Don Meredith. Even though he was on the other side of the ball, I have feeling Dandy Don and Max McGee were cut fron the same cloth, a green and gold one. His Monday Nights were legendary and he could make Cosell look like a dolt and so Don, I guess its your final; "turn out the lights, the party's over" God Bless!

Since: Mar 24, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2010 5:40 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Greatly saddened to hear of the passing of the GREAT Dandy Don Meredith.  In the booth as well as on the field, Meredith performed on his own terms.  A quality I greatly admire. I was 12 years old when 
Meredith took over as Dallas QB. I became a Cowboys fan (for life) from the very begining The triumvirate of Cosell, Gifford and Meredith was certainly the best ever on MNF and among the best pro football broadcast teams ever.   Don Meredith was the catalyst that made it work so well.  Namath may have been the straw that stirred the drink but Meredith was the classic cocktail.  A toast to Dandy Don.  Farewell, rest in peace.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:22 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Great article.

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2010 3:17 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

Props to Clark Judge on writing a terrific article on Ol' Dandy Don Meredith. His playing days as well as his MNF days were well before my time (I am currently 24) but have heard great things baout him like his down to earth demeanor and being the glue of the original MNF team. RIP Don Meredith. You will be missed by ALL generations of pro football fans.

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2010 2:58 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

If you couldn't love Don Meredith I doubt you could love anyone associated with the game of football.  The charm, the wit, the insights to the game without technical mumbo jumbo made me, a Green Bay Packer fan, love this Dallas Cowboy.

Since: Oct 22, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2010 2:45 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don

I'll miss Dandy Don because he was one of us.  A regular guy who loved football and didn't seem to mind a drink now and again. 

I was too young to know him as a player, but I grew up on Monday Night Football.

Society was much more tolerant in those days and you could almost hear the ice clinking in the glass and the words getting a little more suspect as the game went on, but Don always had a point to make and he knew his business.  Keeping Howard in check was just part of the attraction in the days when one would have to adjust the Rabbit Ears to make sure the picture was coming through on the old Zenith.

We'll see ya Pardner.  Keep your powder dry and the beer on ice until we all get there.

Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: December 6, 2010 2:45 pm

Hard not to miss Dandy Don


Great tribute article to Dandy Don!  Monday Night Football has never been as good as the first team. 

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