November 26, 2009
By BRAD TOWNSEND
The Dallas Morning News
SANTA FE, N.M. – Smiling, he rises from his chair. His hair is gray and his legs are creaky, but there's no mistaking it.
It's Don Meredith.
"Hello, hello!" the supposedly reclusive ex-Cowboys quarterback bellows to his invited guest, a reporter no less.
So many questions beg, but Meredith, 71, just wants to be himself. Share witticisms. Croon country tunes. Raise his Snapple to offer a, well, colorful toast.
Football doesn't enter the banter until Meredith is told of a nearing anniversary. On Nov. 28, 1959, he signed a personal services contract to play for a proposed NFL team that had no nickname, no coach and no other players.
From this seed sprouted the Dallas Cowboys.
"Son of a gun," Meredith chuckles. "I didn't know what 50 years felt like, but now I do."
In that other lifetime he was Dandy Don, the captivating SMU All-American from nearby Mount Vernon. He led the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championship games, then rather inexplicably retired in 1969, at age 31.
Next he was Monday Night Football's "Irrepressible One," as booth-mate Howard Cosell called him. Millions tuned in to hear Meredith needle Cosell, rhapsodize about parents Jeff and Hazel and Mount Vernon and belt "The Party's Over."
But after the 1984 season, he virtually vanished to Santa Fe and semi-retirement with his wife, Susan. He since has given few interviews, adding mystery and intrigue to an already compelling Texas folk tale.
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