Dandy Don Meredith: The Death Of A Cowboys Legend

1938 – 2010

Yesterday, all of Cowboys Nation was saddened over the tragic loss of a Dallas Cowboys icon, Don Meredith.

Dandy Don, as he was best known, died at the age of 72 after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma.

Meredith started playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 1960, and was the original Dallas Cowboy, signing with the team two months before the franchise officially was admitted into the NFL.

He wouldn’t become the starting quarterback until 1965, but quickly led the Cowboys to their first winning season, 10-3-1, in 1966. He guided the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL title games, both defeats to the Green Bay Packers, but he abruptly retired from pro football the following year at the young age of 31.

Longtime Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm once said of Meredith:

“He had a wonderful sense of humor and a very laid-back personality. But he was an absolutely intense competitor who could rally a team. He was very charismatic, maybe the most charismatic player we had.”

Though, his time as a Cowboy was short-lived, it was Meredith who helped Dallas become one of the best and most exciting teams in football.

The NY Times had a fitting quote that best described his sheer toughness on the field.

More than anything else, Meredith earned respect by repeatedly exhibiting one attribute: toughness. Few had more guts and courage, inside and outside the pocket. In his era, the rules didn’t protect the quarterback as they do today, and those that did weren’t strictly enforced. In those early years, the Cowboys’ offensive line wasn’t very good. Meredith often took a beating, but he never complained about it. According to Brandt, Meredith played a game against Washington in 1966 with broken ribs.

Don Meredith is probably best remembered for his remarkable broadcasting career which began in the broadcast booth with Howard Cosell and Keith Jackson and the birth of Monday Night Football. Funny, warm and knowledgeable, America fell in love with Dandy Don, and many credit him for MNF’s immediate success which also led to the widespread popularity of the NFL.

Who can ever forget hearing Meredith sing the Willie Nelson classic, “Turn Out the Lights” whenever a team was facing imminent defeat.

Meredith blazed his own path, as one paper put it, it was one that was followed by John Madden a few years later – by retiring early from football after great success and finding even greater success in broadcasting, accentuated by his larger-than-life personality.

I’m really gonna miss Dandy Don. He was one of the best personalities of the game, but more important than that he was a charitable person who always gave back to his fans and his community.

I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to end this post, than with the line from the song that he sang to us so many times.

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end.”

Rest in Peace, Dandy Don. You will be missed.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I thought I would do something a little different this week. I completely agree with Rob V.  Believing in our team, knowing that the “turnaround” will come. Year in and year out, the waiting is starting to wear on me. So I think to myself, how did this all begin, how did I become a fan, better yet, how am I still a fan of a team that has not won a playoff game in 12 years.  So I decided to look back at the Dallas Cowboys history and remind myself, what is it about the Dallas Cowboys that keeps me fighting for them year after year

December of 1959, the NFL decided to add an expansion team to the league, and thus began, THE DALLAS COWBOYS.  Throughout the years, coaches and players alike have come and gone, and throughout the years, legends were born and history was made.

Don Meredith was the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys. They went 0-11-1 in their first season in the NFL. September 17, 1961, they won their first game against Pittsburgh, 27-24. By December of 1967, even though the Dallas Cowboys had lost 2 consecutive championship games, history was on their side.  Mike Gaechter, a cornerback, returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, and in the same game, Amos Marsh returned a kickoff for 101 yards for a touchdown. Making that the first game in NFL to have 2 returns for 100 yards or more in one game.

January 1972, With Roger Staubach as quarterback, the Cowboys win their 1st Super Bowl against Miami, 24-3. Thus beginning the run of 5 Super Bowl championships. In 1975, the Dallas Cowboys franchise began, what they called, “THE RING OF HONOR”. Honoring the greats that graced the fields week in and week out.  Bob Lilly, Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Mel Renfro, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Roger Staubach, the list goes on and on.  20 players in all have been inducted into the Ring of Honor, and I am certain that there is plenty more to come.

February 1989, for me was a sad day.  Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys, and ended one of the, if not THE greatest coaching careers of all time.  Jerry replaced Tom Landry with Jimmy Johnson as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Over the course of the next 4 years the Dallas Cowboys won 3 Super Bowl championships, had 2 players, Tony Dorsett and Randy White, and Coach Tom Landry, inducted into the Hall of Fame.  They sent 22 players in 4 years to the Pro Bowl, and Emmitt Smith became a legend winning 3 consecutive rushing titles.

Since Jerry Jones replaced Tom Landry as head coach, Dallas has had 6 head coaches and several other staff come and go, with no results.  However, players like Darryl “Moose” Johnston, and Jay Novacek, kept me watching the Dallas Cowboys week in and week out. Yes, it has been far too long since Dallas has won a championship, or even a playoff game for that matter. But as I look back at the history of our team, donned “America’s Team” by Bob Ryan after the 1978 season, I think to myself.  How could I cheer for another team, it would be like turning my back on my family.

This week, was a very tough loss for me. A very tough loss for all of us. But just like the history shows, we will bounce back.  We will prevail! This is only the 4th game of the season, and there is plenty more football to play.  So let’s get behind our team, let’s show them our support, and show them no matter what happens, we are behind them 100%.  Let’s show our “RING OF HONOR” we will NEVER let them down.  GO COWBOYS!!!!!!

Legends of the Star – Don Perkins

Don Perkins attended the University of New Mexico and played running back and kick returner. He won many awards during his college career and in 1958 he led the nation in kickoff returns.
Although being initially drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 1960 NFL Draft, he was awarded to the Dallas Cowboys who had signed him to a contract before the draft. The Colts were awarded a compensation pick instead.
Don immediately became the Cowboys starting running back and their first legitimate star. Along with his quarterback Don Meredith, they became the face of the Dallas Cowboys. He became the first Dallas Cowboy to rush for 100 yards in a game when he racked up 108 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on September 24th. Don was named the NFL rookie of the Year in 1961 with 815 yards rushing. He made his first Pro Bowl the following season after another big season in which he rushed for 945 yards. During his 8 seasons with the Cowboys, Don was named to the Pro Bowl 6 times and was the Cowboys career leading rusher with over 6,000 yards when he retired.
When all was said and done, he rushed for 6,217 yards on 1500 carries and 42 touchdowns. He also caught 146 passes for 1,310 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is currently third all time in career rushing yards for the Cowboys, behind Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.
In 1976, he was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.
Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Don Meredith

Although he never led the Dallas Cowboys to an NFL Championship or a Super Bowl, "Dandy" Don Meredith was one of the most popular players in team history. After an amazing college career as a quarterback for Southern Methodist University, he gained national recognition and was selected as an All-American in 1958 and 1959. In 1960 he was drafted with the 3rd overall pick by the Chicago Bears and immediately traded to the NFL’s newest franchise, the Dallas Cowboys.

After languishing on the bench for his first 5 years on the team, he was named starting quarterback in 1965 by Tom Landry and never looked back. He made an immediate impact with his gritty style of play and his mental and physical toughness. He set many Cowboys records which still stand today, including the longest pass in franchise history, a 95 yard strike to Bob Hayes in 1966. He also threw a record 5 touchdowns passes in a single game, a team record that was recently matched by Tony Romo last season. After leading the Cowboys to their first winning seasons as a franchise, he shocked the sports world by announcing his sudden retirement shortly before the 1969 season. During his short career as starter he was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1966. He threw for an impressive 17,199 yards and 135 touchdowns in his career, and in 1976, Don Meredith was inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

After leaving the game he went on to become an actor, but gamed national fame once again as the color commentator of "Monday Night Football" from 1970 until 1984. Some of you may also remember Don as the spokesperson for Lipton tea in 1970’s and 1980’s.


Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.