Don Meredith was part of the "Monday Night Football" booth beginning with the first season on ABC in 1970, when he paired with Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell. Meredith spent 12 seasons working on sports television’s signature series (1970-73 and 1977-84). Frank Gifford (1971-97) and Dan Dierdorf (1987-98) are the only former NFL players or coaches who have called more MNF games in the 40-year history of the show.
Chris Berman will voice a tribute to Meredith tonight that will air on "Monday Night Countdown" (approximately 6:10 p.m. CT) and during the MNF halftime. Also, Mike Tirico will have an interview with Meredith’s longtime booth-mate and friend Gifford during the MNF halftime.
Here is some of the reaction from company officials to Meredith's death:
Bob Iger, president and CEO of Walt Disney Company: “Many deserve credit for making Monday Night Football into an incredible fan experience that has endured for decades and Dandy Don Meredith is one of them. I was privileged to work with him and will miss his humor, insight and charm.”
George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks: “Don Meredith was a true legend, whose disarming style and quick wit helped him successfully transition from star NFL quarterback to broadcasting legend. He helped launch Monday Night Football on ABC in 1970 and his contributions over the next decade helped transform sports television’s signature series into a cultural icon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Susan, and the entire Meredith family.”
"Monday Night Football" play-by-play voice Mike Tirico: “Don Meredith was a huge part of what has made Monday Night Football so special. His approach, attitude and love of football came thought in every broadcast. Just the phrase, 'Turn out the lights, the party’s over' makes any football fan watching in the '70s and early '80s break out in a smile. He was one of a kind and helped make Monday nights magical. For any of us who have had Monday Night Football as a part of our life, it is a sad day.”
Analyst Ron Jaworski: “I had the pleasure of meeting Don a few times. He was a guy I admired as much as anyone, both as a player and as an analyst. His great work inspired me to always be prepared and to have fun doing it. He loved what he did and it always showed. We’re going to miss him."
Analyst Jon Gruden: “I used to sneak downstairs and watch Don and Monday Night Football when I was supposed to be asleep in bed growing up. He was special. Those crews had a lot of fun together and I always loved hearing him sing, ‘Turn out the lights, the party’s over.’”
ESPN NFL studio host Chris Berman: "Don Meredith was a television pioneer who made pro football real, even for non-football fans. I can't remember watching a Monday Night Football telecast, and I've seen a few, where Dandy Don failed to make me smile."