Missing Dandy Don
It doesn’t seem like Don Meredith spent 15 years in the network broadcast booth. Looking back on the halcyon days of Monday Night Football, it seems like Meredith analyzed NFL games for but a few seasons.
But his work indeed was lasting. And not forgotten by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which has named Meredith the 2007 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
Young NFL fans really have no concept of what Meredith and Monday Night Football were like back in the days, 1970-73 and 1977-84, the three-year break courtesy of NBC, which stole away Meredith.
There’s really no counterpart in today’s television. Everyone today is so serious. Meredith was like Charles Barkley, only less biting and more charming.
While Howard Cosell gloriously infuriated us with words we never had heard and ideas that haven’t graced a football field before or since, Meredith jabbed back with feather gloves. He carved up Cosell not with a butcher knife, but with a scalpel.
Wearing those gaudy yellow blazers, Cosell was that incredible bluster of insufferable intellectualism and Meredith was the downhome counterpart who would talk about prairie dogs when Cosell brought up world peace.
All around the context of a football game that everyone in America seemed to be watching.
John Madden, Troy Aikman, Phil Simms, all have their strengths as NFL pitch men. None can match Dandy Don and his sidekick, the New York lawyer Cosell.
The honor from the Hall of Fame is well-deserved. Alas, it also reminds us of what we’ve lost.
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