Don Meredith, the iconic Monday Night Football broadcaster and the original Dallas Cowboy, died Sunday after suffering a brain hemorrhage in Santa Fe, N.M.
He was 72.
Meredith was the prototypical fun-loving guy wherever he went, whether crooning country tunes in the huddle as Dallas quarterback or jawing with Howard Cosell in the broadcast booth.
His irreverent personality made him one of the most beloved figures in sports and entertainment in the 1970s and 1980s, helping turn Monday Night Football into a national sensation.
A folksy foil to Cosell’s “tell-it-like-it-is” pomposity, Meredith was at his best with unscripted one-liners – often aimed at broadcast partners. His trademark came when a team had the game locked up. Meredith would warble, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” – from a song by his pal Willie Nelson.
Meredith played for the Cowboys from 1960-68, taking them from winless expansion team to the brink of a championship. He was only 31 when he retired before training camp in 1969, and a year later was paired with Cosell in the broadcast booth for the oddity of a prime-time, weeknight NFL game.
“Watching him on TV was like being in the huddle with Don again,” former teammate Dan Reeves said. “He just made the game fun.”
Meredith was a two-time All-American at SMU and literally the first Cowboy, signing a personal services contract on Nov. 28, 1959, before the franchise had a coach or even a nickname.
“The contract read, ‘If we get a National Football League franchise, we’d like for you to play quarterback,’”
PATRIOTS MAUL JETS
Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 326 yards as New England romped to a 45-3 victory over the New York Jets in Foxborough, Mass. It was Brady’s NFL-record 26th straight regular-season home victory.
In surpassing Brett Favre’s mark for consecutive wins in the comforts of his own stadium, Brady also lifted the Patriots (10-2) to the best record in the AFC. If this was for bragging rights in the conference, Rex Ryan and the Jets (9-3) will have to be silent for a while.
“We don’t listen to the hype,” Brady said. “I don’t think we ever have. We really take after our coach and he says ‘When you win, say little. When you lose, say less.’”
Brady moved into 13th place all-time with 252 TD passes; he has thrown for 27 TDs and been intercepted only four times as the three-time Super Bowl winner makes a strong case for his second league MVP award.
The Denver Broncos fired coach Josh McDaniels, whose nearly two-year stint was marred by the Spygate II videotape scandal, a series of personnel blunders and the franchise’s worst skid in four decades.
Running backs coach Eric Studesville will serve as interim coach for the final month, succeeding McDaniels, 34, who was hired by team owner Pat Bowlen in January 2009.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had surgery to repair a broken nose suffered while being sacked Sunday by Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, who was fined $15,000 by the NFL on Monday. Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain was fined $40,000 for his helmet hit that left Steelers tight end Heath Miller with a concussion. Rams linebacker Na’il Diggs is out for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle.