Don Meredith, one of the first stars of the Dallas Cowboys and part of ABC's original Monday Night Football broadcast booth, died on Dec. 5. He was 72.
Meredith died in Santa Fe, after suffering a brain hemorrhage and falling into a coma, his wife Susan told the Associated Press on Monday.
Meredith, a member of college football's Hall of Fame for his proficiency playing quarterback at Southern Methodist University, was a three-time Pro Bowler as the signal-caller for the Cowboys, which entered the NFL in 1960, before retiring after the 1968 season. Meredith led the Cowboys to a pair of NFL title tilt appearances in 1966 and 1967, but wound up on the wrong end of the championship contests against Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, including the famous "Ice Bowl."
Much of Meredith's fame, though, emanated from his role as "Dandy Don" in ABC's MNF booth. Teaming at first with Keith Jackson and the late Howard Cosell, and subsequently with Frank Gifford, Meredith helped make the primetime game must-see TV and a cultural touchstone as pro football emerged as this nation's top TV sport.
Meredith's signature call was singing Willie Nelson's "Turn Out the Lights" when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Meredith left ABC after the 1973 season for a three-year run at NBC, before returning to MNF in 1977. He retired in 1984, one year after Cosell left the team.
"Don Meredith was one of the most colorful characters in NFL history. He was star on the field who became an even bigger star on television," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He brought joy to football fans, from his play in historic NFL games like the Ice Bowl to his great personality that helped launch the success of Monday Night Football."
Noted Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "Don Meredith was a Dallas Cowboys original. His wit, charm, and strength of personality were matched only by his wonderful leadership, toughness and athletic skill. His persona defined the Cowboys of the 1960s and set the course for what the franchise became. Throughout 50 years of history, the Cowboys legacy has been built by dynamic and colorful personalities who could also compete at the highest level. No one fit that description better than Don Meredith."