Meredith’s wife, Susan, told the Associated Press on Monday her husband died in Santa Fe, N.M., after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma. She and her daughter were at Meredith’s side when he died.
“He was the best there was,” she said, describing him as kind, warm and funny. “We lost a good one.”
She said that a private graveside service was being planned and that family members were traveling to Santa Fe.
Over his nine-year career, Meredith threw for 17,199 yards and 111 touchdowns. He retired unexpectedly before the 1969 season.
He quickly became one of the most popular broadcasters in sports because of his folksy sayings and country humor.
Meredith was one of nine Dallas players selected to the Pro Bowl that year — the first of his two Pro Bowl years.
“He did it without as much help as some of the other guys had,” said Lee Roy Jordan, a former Cowboys linebacker. “Our offensive line was not very good early on. He got beat up pretty bad — broken noses and collarbones and ribs, everything you can think of, Don had it. But he was one tough individual. He played with many an ailment and injury and was very, very competitive. He and Bob Hayes really set the standard for the wide-open offense, the motion guys and big plays.”
“I tried to talk him out of it,” Dallas head coach Tom Landry said after Meredith announced his retirement. “But when you lose your desire in this game, that’s it.”
“No way you’re getting me down there,” Meredith said.
Another famous Meredith moment occurred in 1974 at the Houston Astrodome. The Oakland Raiders were in the process of beating the Houston Oilers, 34-0.
A cameraman had a shot of a disgruntled Oilers fan, who then made an obscene gesture. Meredith said of the fan: “He thinks they’re No. 1 in the nation.”
In addition to his broadcasting career, Meredith appeared in several TV shows and movies after his playing career ended. He had a recurring role in “Police Story” and was a spokesman for Lipton.
Meredith was born and raised in Mount Vernon, Texas, which is about 100 miles east of Dallas. He never played a home game outside of North Texas.
AP sports writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this report.
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