Monday, December 6, 2010

Turn Out The Lights

Turn out the lights the party's over....

They say that all good things must end.

Willie Nelson wrote the song, Dandy Don Meredith made it famous. Now the lights have gone out for Meredith. He's gone on to that big point after in the sky at age 72.

Monday Night Football was the must watch TV back when we were kids. Back before cable, the internet, and the NFL Package. We got two or three games on Sunday, then the highlight of the week... MNF! The first sportscasters I can remember are Dandy Don, Howard Cosell, and Frank Gifford.

Giff played the straight play-by-play man. Cosell was the overbearing, arrogant, know-it-all, and Dandy Don was the fun loving rascal that kept Cosell's ego in check while partying every Monday night. I'm guessing Roone Arledge was the genius that put Meredith and Cosell in the booth together. Try and imagine listening to Howard without Dandy Don there to keep him slightly in check. Ugh.

I wish I had been a little older because I'm sure some of Don's jokes and references were more adult oriented and just went over my head. I don't remember this, but the story goes that Don's first game in the MNF booth (a tryout during a pre-season game) was a Cleveland Browns game. This was 1970, 1971 or so. Cleveland had a WR named Fair Hooker (no joke) one of the other announcers said "Fair Hooker" Don said, "I've never met one." He was hired on the spot, and the rest is history.


  1. Don was great on MNF. He was a pretty good QB back in the day. I was a kid, but I remember when the Cowboys were my team. Dandy Don, Walt Garrison, Hays "fastest human on earth". I was a fan up until Tom Landry was "let go". Uh, fired that is. Cowboys have sucked in my book ever since! Don Meredeth and George Blanda are probably playing pro football in heaven, or where ever good-guy football heros go.

    Thanks for the tribute Gene!

  2. Gene, that is SO FUNNY you mention Fair Hooker! I actually DO remember the dude! He played WR for the Browns for a couple of seasons in the early 70's. I think he played on a few other teams as well.

    Those three had such chemistry together. My greatest memory of Dandy Don was when the Oakland Raiders were playing the Houston Oilers in the Astrodome in the early 70's on a MNF game. The Raiders were just putting the WWE-style beatdown on the Oilers. Early in the fourth quarter the camera panned to a lone fan sitting in a particular section. Without missing a beat, the fan gave the camera the middle finger salute. Dandy Don quipped, "Someone thinks the Oilers are #1!", or something to that effect. He had such a quick wit and could think on his feet. He will be greatly missed. RIP Dandy Don.

  3. During his playing days the 'Boys were playing the Bears in a preseason game. It was a brand new deal... They had both Meredith and Dick Butkus wired for sound, you know, the sounds of the game from each side of the ball... Well about half the time the sound feed had to be "beeped" out, especially on the Butkus commentary. So Meredith calls a pass play, drops back and here comes Butkus on a blitz right up the middle... Dandy Don seeing this pulled the ball down and broke for the sideline... All you could here was heavy breathing out of Butkus and it kind of went like this from Meredith... beep beep....... beep beep....... (Butkus is getting closer).... BEEP BEEP..... BEEP BEEP!!!
    He made it out of bounds and then Butkus was in his face "You chicken BEEP!" LOL

    Don ran contrary to "Cowboy Values" and that probably played a big role in him retiring at 31 years old.

    I was very surprised to hear he died at what I hope to be a very young age of 72...

    Yes, Fair Hooker was one of those "I can't believe they did that" names that a smart commentator named Meredith took advantage of. Cosell was a pompous ass.

    Thanks Gene!

  4. CR.... I don't recall his playing days, but I've seen tape of him playing in the infamous Ice Bowl in Green Bay.

    I do remember Blanda's last couple of seasons in the early 70s with the Raiders. Amazing.

  5. Jon... you're so right about the chemistry they had. Whoever put them together had lightning in a bottle. I don't know about before, but I haven't seen it since.

  6. Dwindy... I think I've seen that tape of Butkus chasing Don. Classic!

    Yes, I heard that Landry wasn't too fond of 'sinners'... unless they could still help him win some games. I bet Meredith was giving Gifford some competition for the hotel bar circuit 'scoring' title back in their MNF days. LOL

    Cosell was a piece of work. In some fan vote, he won best, and worst, sports broadcaster... in the same poll!