This writer heard this morning of the death of Don Meredith, former Quarterback at Mt. Vernon High School, Southern Methodist University, and the Dallas Cowboys. Don Meredith was 72 years old at the time of his death in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I started following Meredith when he played at SMU. He, and the talented cast that surrounded him, (including a very good running back/receiver named Frank Jackson, who I think was from Paris, Texas) were not only a good football team but were also incredibly exciting to watch.
Don Meredith was an extremely gifted athlete. Those who only saw him with the Cowboys might not think so. After a few years in the early days of pro football Don's knees were so crippled he could barely run. At SMU Don was the tailback in a "spread" formation. On most plays he either threw or RAN the football. This was not all that different than the offensive schemes of the super quarterbacks in college football today, Cam Newton being the best. Recent players like Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and Vince Young fit in the mold as well. Don showed them the way as he spread the defensive, forced them to defend the pass, and then ran the ball to pick up critical first downs.
Meredith's basketball skills were almost as good. When I attended East Texas State, now Texas A&M at Commerce, Don held the high school tournament scoring record. Observers told me Meredith would bring it across the half court line, and then "jack it" the first time he got a chance.
Don Meredith lived a good life in Dallas as THE QUARTERBACK of AMERICA'S TEAM. The men liked his humor and athletic ability, and the women thought he was more than a little bit cute. The famed Texas football, baseball, and party star, Bobby Layne, would have been proud of the way Don extended his legacy. Peter Gent, a former Dallas wide receiver, wrote a book followed by a movie called, "North Dallas Forty" based on the Cowboys. Meredith's character was named Seth Maxwell. After reading the book Meredith said, "If I'd known Gent was as good as he says he was, I would have thrown to him more."
Most people will remember Don's exploits on Monday Night Football anchoring with his buddies, Frank Gifford, and of course, Howard Cosell. When the games were over, whether the clock had run down or not, Don would break into song, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."
He also had the following quips along with many, many more:
"If 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, wouldn't it be a merry Christmas?"
On teammate Walt Garrison: "If you needed four yards, you'd give the ball to Garrison and he'd get you four yards. If you needed 20 yards, you'd give the ball to Garrison, and he'd get you four yards."
His comment when Vice President Spiro Agnew visited the Monday Night booth: "I didn't vote for you, but you do have a nice suit on."
On playing for Tom Landry: "He's such a perfectionist that if he were married to Dolly Parton he'd expect her to cook."
Thank you, Don, you brought entertainment and joy to our lives. Thanks for playing a larger than life role back during the good times.