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Monday, December 06, 2010

RIP: Dandy Don

Sunday, we lost a Dallas Cowboy icon when Joseph "Dandy" Don Meredith passed away of a brain 
hemorrhage. I miss him already, even though he's kept a pretty low profile for some years now.  It was the idea that he was still there that gave me hope for the Dallas Cowboys. I've never been a regular football fan. The Cowboys are the only team I watch. If they aren't in the Super Bowl, I'm not at all interested is sitting through the game.

I guess, in order for me to enjoy a sports contest, I have to have a home town team in the game.  I'm loyal to the Texas Rangers and the Cowboys especially.  Pudge Rodriguez and Nolan Ryan are the epitome of the Texas Rangers for me.  Nolan's bull-dogging of Kansas City's Robin Ventura when he charged the mound is my "greatest moment in baseball".  Don Meredith and Bob Hayes, Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson and to a lesser extent Troy Aikmann and Emmet Smith do that for me with the Cowboys.

Meredith used to throw these long bombs to "Bullet" Bob Hayes. You could feel the despair on the opposing team if Bob managed to hang onto one of those passes.  If you had three steps on Bob Hayes, he'd still beat you to the goal line.  The way Meredith used to throw, even Bob Hayes, the fastest human in the world at the time, had trouble getting under a Meredith pass once he let loose.  He still holds the Cowboy's single game passing record which, considering he was followed by the likes of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikmann ain't no small record to hold.

Meredith placed his mark on the Cowboys.  It was the trio of Meredith, Hayes and halfback Don Perkins that led the Cowboys out of the cellar.  It was Staubach, Pearson and Tony Dorsett that made Dallas a dynasty and Troy Aikmann, Michael Irving and Emmit Smith proved the formula.

Don Meredith was severely mistreated by fans despite his heroic performances. He finished his last game with broken bones, bruises, frostbite and pneumonia and got booed out of a Dallas restaurant a few weeks later.  But that's Dallasites and Dallas people are city folks and they think you ought to be able to buy victory with a credit card. Most of us folks out in the Texas appreciate the Cowboys whatever they are doing and most of us thought Don Meredith was just "Dandy" - hence the name. After all, he was an East Texas boy, born and raised and we understood how hard he worked.

I try to avoid watching Cowboy games during the season because the 'Boys tend to lose when I watch them.  I think I give off some sort of bad ju-ju or something.  Who knows?  I may be responsible for the two Green Bay games back in the 60 when Meredith's teams lost the NFC championships in the ice. I did watch both games, after all.

The Cowboys have done much better since I started watching irregularly, though there was that whole "can't win the big one" thing, but then, that probably wasn't their fault.  I tended to break down and watch all the "big ones". 

But I usually just get by on the news highlights, though sometimes, I just can't stand it and watch anyway. Sometimes they overcome my Ju-Ju and win. But even when they lose, players like Don Meredith made it fun to watch.  Some of the plays Meredith used to run were pretty wild.  Meredith used to confuse the heck out of defenses back during his day.

Staubach later on would do the same thing.  Aikmann was more of a traditionalist, but even he showed some of the flash that made the Cowboys fun to watch.

So to Don Meredith, the Cowboy who put the "fun" in the Dallas Cowboys, I want to thank you big guy. You helped set the tone for a whole lot of good Texas football.  And sticking the occasional pin in the highly over-inflated Howard Cosell has also earned our eternal gratitude.

I'm just telling you what I think....

Tom King


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