Pssssst. Here's a secret for you. Don Meredith was my hero too.
He was my idol on many different levels.
First, as a football player. I never knew much about his Mount Vernon and SMU days when I was growing up down in Cherokee County. But as a young, diehard fan, I threw a fit when the Cowboys lost the "Ice Bowl." The quarterback of the Cowboys for that game - Don Meredith.
Meredith, I would later learn was the reason the Cowboys were in the championship game to begin with, not the reason they lost. Lombardi's Packers were just too tough. I appreciated how hard Meredith played. Like everyone else, I was shocked when he retired at the age of 31 with the team getting better. But Don had other fish to fry, tea to sell, paintings to paint. I also admire how he did not stay around just to get a check, he was not fully committed to football anymore, so he rode off into the sunset.
Second, as a broadcaster. I loved, absolutely loved, how the homespun humor and wit of Meredith would knock Howard Cosell to his knees during Monday Night Football. Cosell, who had an inflated opinion of himself to say the least, was a perfect sparring partner for Meredith. The game, well, the game was handled by Fearless Frank. The entertainment came from Meredith.
I can remember as a lad growing up, talking in imaginary tones to the back of a brown hair brush. I was not Don Wallace, in my mind I was Dandy Don on TV doing the Cowboy game. Meredith was just so cool and he wasn't even trying to be.
Third, now, after his death, I admire Meredith for a deeper reason. I admire Meredith the man. He was a good person, loyal friend and someone who helped others less fortunate than himself.. The Don Meredith fans in Mount Vernon have been filling me in on what a great guy old No. 17 was and how he was someone Jeff and Hazel Meredith would be proud of and how he never forgot his upbringing at 616 Kaufman St. in Mount Vernon.
Meredith helped out his home town to the very end. He was always ready to raise money or lend his name to any cause which benefitted Mount Vernon.
In Meredith's home town he has a museum, the football stadium is named after him. His former residence has a marker in front of it.
So Dandy Don is gone now at the too young age of 72. I know he still had songs to sing and jokes to tell. But he was called home and as usual Meredith always left his fans wanting more.
Turn out the lights, Dandy Don is gone. I know he is not forgotten.
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