Don Meredith Was Simply Dandy on Monday Night Football

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IDecember 6, 2010

The best-ever on Monday Night -- Cosell, Meredith and Gifford
The best-ever on Monday Night -- Cosell, Meredith and Gifford

Don Meredith was quite simply Dandy Don back in the day.

He was the yin to Howard Cosell's yang, the drawling guy in the booth who Cosell often referred to as "The Irrepressible One."

Dandy Don is gone. He passed on Sunday. He had a stroke six years ago, was a victim of emphysema and finally a brain hemorrage. He was 72 and we'll miss him.

Monday Night Football was a "must-see" event back then. Cosell, Meredith and their straight man, play-by-play commentator Frank Gifford. You never knew what was forthcoming. Forget the football, we couldn't wait to see and hear what Meredith might come up with next in his ongoing banter battle with Cosell.

Meredith often referred to himself as "Jeff and Hazel's bouncing baby boy." His signature came near the end of the broadcast of games when the outcome was all but certain. "Turn out the lights, the party's over..." he would sing, signalling the end of the game.

Oh yes, Dandy Don came up with some dandies, like the time he referred to then-American President Richard Nixon as "Tricky Dick" during a broadcast.

Then there was the Cleveland game when the Browns had a player on their roster named Fair Hooker, which opened the door for Meredith to chirp: "Fair Hooker...I've never met one."

Meredith wasn't afraid to blast Cosell during a broadcast when he felt Howard had said something outrageously wrong. He'd come back at Cosell with the caveat, "Listen Howard, I played the game and you're flat wrong."

Dandy Don did indeed play the game. He played it well enough for the Dallas Cowboys to induct him into the team's Ring of Honor in 1976.

He was said to be the model for the character "Seth Maxwell" in Pete Gent's novel, North Dallas Forty, a fictional account of the behind the scenes shenanigans of a team called the North Dallas Bulls that greatly resembled the Dallas Cowboys.

But those of us who were old enough to stay up for Monday Night Football back then we couldn't wait to hear Meredith, Cosell and Gifford, but mostly Meredith and Cosell.

The broadcast simply hasn't been as much fun without them. They're both gone now. We can only replay them in our memories.

So we can now turn out the lights for Dandy Don, but we won't turn out his memory. Monday Night Football was quite a party in the booth back then.

We'll miss you, Don Meredith.