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NAX: As roles go, this grandiose giant had plenty to go around - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: As roles go, this grandiose giant had plenty to go around

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Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:00 am

Well, that is a bummer — Dandy Don Meredith no longer among us. Of course, we hadn’t seen much of the man lately. He was living the quiet life in Santa Fe (albeit with health problems) and really didn’t have much inclination or reason to get back in public life.

But, oh, how he made the most of it back when. He was a delight on “Monday Night Football” and had America at his mercy in the heyday. And that was after a rather unique run as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

It’s downright sad to think of this legend suffering emphysema in recent years and a minor stroke in 2004 before succumbing to a brain hemorrhage. You don’t like to think of somebody that sharp and that dynamic as being limited.

So with that in mind, why not just remember him for being the special person that he was?

The man had so many lines to share that they’ll be telling stories about him for a long time. And many of them will be at the expense of a not so lovable cohort, Howard Cosell.

But come to think of it, Meredith needed people like Howie and the serious souls like Tom Landry who ran the Dallas Cowboys.

The man just wasn’t living up to his potential if he couldn’t be a bit outrageous. And playing off his gigantic personality against the status quo provided him with the perfect stage.

In fact, life provided Dandy Don with a couple of amazing opportunities. He offered his unique perspective to two fledging ventures. The Cowboys benefitted from a hometown product who gave them a star worth embracing. And he rewarded the fans with his homespun humor and loosey-goosey lifestyle. How could you not like the man and the player?

But he and Landry weren’t really compatible. The coach simply couldn’t comprehend a player who would do things like break into song in the huddle before a key play in a game. So it was inevitable that they would part ways.

When his playing days ended, Meredith explored the options and, thanks to another NFL star, Frank Gifford, decided to give the new “Monday Night Football” a shot.

Turns out the two were made for each other. Gifford and Cosell found themselves caught up in Meredith’s amazing presence. It took the edge off what, in those days, was a fairly serious undertaking. He changed sportscasting forever.

 And doggone if viewers weren’t ready for an announcer who was subject to saying just about anything at any time. They loved his wisecracks and some waited anxiously for his late-game rendition of “Turn Out the Lights.”

But Dandy Don wasn’t just putting on a show for the cameras. He was being himself — and he did the same type of things in real life.

Leading up to Super Bowls, the guy even livened up places like the French Quarter. He was the center of attention. And who didn’t know him?

There’s no way to really know, but if Don Meredith hadn’t joined “Monday Night Football,” it may not have become such a part of American television history.

He deserves whatever portion of history is assigned to him. Wonder what joke he’d grace that distinction with?

Odessa, TX

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