Legendary Football Quarterback Don Meredith Dies

Legendary football quarterback and television broadcaster Don Meredith, an SMU alumnus, died Sunday at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M.

DALLAS SMU) – Legendary football quarterback and television broadcaster Don Meredith died Sunday at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M. An SMU alumnus, he was 72.

SMU honored Meredith in 2008 by retiring his jersey during halftime ceremonies at the SMU-Houston football game. Meredith wore number 17 during his playing years at SMU (1957-59). He also received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1983.

“Don Meredith brought honor to his alma mater through his tremendous achievements as a student-athlete and then as a professional,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He applied the resilience he showed in football to a successful second career as a national broadcaster, reporting and analyzing with a true understanding of the game and those who play it.

“Presenting him with SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award  and retiring his SMU jersey was one way of expressing our appreciation for his accomplishments. Generations of alumni will remember his time on the Hilltop and have followed his career with pride,” Turner said.

SMU Athletics Director Steve Orsini said, "I was saddened to hear of Don's passing. He touched so many here — from his teammates in the 1950s to those he met when he returned to the Hilltop in 2008 to have his jersey retired. He was one of the greatest Mustangs and will be missed by the entire SMU family."

Born April 10, 1938, in Mount Vernon, Texas, Meredith was a two-time All-America selection (1958 and 1959) on the Hilltop, setting a Southwest Conference record with 69.6 completion percentage in 1957. He also was a member of Phi Delta Theta and was remembered by friends as being as good a basketball player as he was a football player.

The Chicago Bears then selected Meredith in the third round of the 1960 NFL Draft, but traded him to a young Dallas Cowboys franchise for future draft picks.

Don Meredith (right) with SMU President R. Gerald Turner and SMU Athletic Director Steve Orsini
Don Meredith (right) with SMU President R. Gerald Turner (left) and SMU Athletics Director Steve Orsini at the retirement of his jersey number on Oct. 18, 2008.

Throughout his nine-year career with the Cowboys, "Dandy" Don was one of the Cowboys' most recognizable stars, leading his team to three straight division championships and trips to consecutive NFL Championship games following the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

In 1976, Meredith was inducted into the Cowboys' "Ring of Honor".

Following his playing days, Meredith had a successful TV career as an analyst on ABC's "Monday Night Football".

Meredith joined MNF in 1970. After three seasons, he left to work at NBC, but soon returned to MNF alongside partners Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell. He was known for singing Willie Nelson’s "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over" when the game appeared to be decided.

Meredith retired from the booth following the 1984 season. His final broadcast was Super Bowl XIX.

Meredith was selected as the 2007 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, receiving the award on August 3, 2007.

Meredith also had an acting career, appearing in multiple movies and television shows, including a starring role on "Police Story," as well as a series of commercials in the 1980s.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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