The legacy of ABC Sports is within the halls of ESPN and while Don Meredith probably never set foot at the Alleged Worldwide Leader, it still is the keeper for ABC’s history in sports.
And with Monday Night Football now on ESPN, it’s up to the network to remember Don Meredith’s who’s influence on the series especially in its infancy is immeasurable. Tonight during Monday Night Countdown, Chris Berman will introduce a tribute to Meredith and during halftime of the New York Jets-New England Patriots game, Mike Tirico will talk with Dandy Don’s play-by-play partner for all but one year of his tenure on MNF, Frank Gifford.
ESPN has sent this release with various executives and personalities remembering Don Meredith and his legacy on Monday Night Football.
ESPN Remembers Monday Night Football Legend Don Meredith
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.Bob Iger, President and CEO 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, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Co-chairman, 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 night’s 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.”
Executive Vice President of Elias Sports Bureau Steve Hirdt, the Director of Information for MNF since 1982 who worked three seasons with Meredith on ABC:“Don was present at the launch of two great NFL institutions: the Dallas Cowboys in 1960, and Monday Night Football in 1970. Don’s style, wit and commentary helped put Monday Night into the public consciousness in the early years. I had enjoyed him as a viewer for years, but it wasn’t until I started working on the show that I learned that he was a whole lot smarter than he liked to portray himself on television. Don would use information I provided by prefacing it with, ‘Well, I don’t know how I know this, but…’ He helped Monday Night Football get off to a great start and the show wouldn’t be what it is today without his influence. We’re going to miss him.”Planned ESPN Tributes:Chris Berman will voice a tribute to Don Meredith tonight that will air on Monday Night Countdown (approx. 7:10 p.m. ET) and during the MNF halftime. Also, Mike Tirico will have an interview with Meredith’s longtime booth-mate and friend Frank Gifford during the MNF halftime.
That is it.