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Don Meredith Dies Age 72

Don Meredith Dies Age 72 - Don Meredith, who died Sunday at age 72 in Santa Fe, was like a 21st-century TV sports personality back when Richard Nixon was president.
Meredith became a pop culture icon as an original cast member of a show —Monday Night Football — that debuted in 1970 with a daring premise: Sports might actually work in primetime if it was wrapped in show biz.

TRIBUTE: Remembering Dandy Don's best lines
Teamed with Howard Cosell and Keith Jackson, Meredith didn't sound like the often-solemn NFL announcers of the era. He cackled. He sang, most memorably Willie Nelson's Turn Out the Lights when games seem clinched. He became the marketing prototype of the modern athlete-turned-announcer with high-profile product endorsements and roles in primetime TV shows.

Meredith had two stints on ABC's MNF, from 1970-73 and from 1977-84. In between, he worked for NBC, teaming with Curt Gowdy on NFL telecasts and starring on Police Story. He also did Lipton Tea commercials.

But as Dallas' star quarterback long before anybody considered it America's Team, Meredith could take a hit. Drafted by Chicago in 1960 and traded to the expansion Cowboys, Meredith led the team to its first winning season in 1966 and an NFL title game loss to Green Bay. That happened again the next season, when Green Bay's win came in the so-called "Ice Bowl" on Green Bay's frozen tundra where temperatures reached well below zero.

"He got beat up pretty bad," recalls former teammate Lee Roy Jordan of Meredith's nine-year career, which ended when he unexpectedly announced his retirement before the 1969 season. "Broken noses and collarbones and ribs, everything you can think of, Don had it. But he was one tough individual."

Don Meredith Dies Age 72


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