ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 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 reported died in Santa Fe after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma.
Meredith’s wife, Susan, said a private graveside service was being planned and that family members were traveling to Santa Fe.
Meredith played for the Cowboys from 1960-1968, becoming the starting quarterback in 1965. While 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.
Meredith left ABC after the 1973 season for a three-year stint at NBC. He returned to the “MNF” crew in 1977 before retiring in 1984, one year after Cosell left the team.
Meredith was one of nine Dallas players selected to the Pro Bowl that year — the first of his two Pro Bowl years.
“He did it without as much help as some of the other guys had,” said Lee Roy Jordan, a former Cowboys linebacker. “Our offensive line was not very good early on. He got beat up pretty bad — broken noses and collarbones and ribs, everything you can think of, Don had it. But he was one tough individual. He played with many an ailment and injury, and was very, very competitive. He and Bob Hayes really set the standard for the wide-open offense, the motion guys and big plays.”
Meredith was one of the first athletes to make the transition from the field to the color analyst — and the move to calling “Monday Night Football” was an easy one for him.
In 1970, Meredith was in the booth for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 38-0 whitewashing of his former team. The Cotton Bowl crowd late in began chanting “We want Meredith!”
Another famous Meredith moment occurred in 1974 at the Houston Astrodome. The Oakland Raiders were in the process of beating the Houston Oilers 34-0.
Before his career with the Cowboys, Meredith was a three-year at quarterback for SMU. He was an All-America selection in 1958 and 1959.
Meredith was born and raised in Mount Vernon, Texas — which is about 100 miles east of Dallas. He never played a home game outside of North Texas.