Don Meredith is the 2007 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, it was announced today. The award, given annually by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recognizes “long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
Meredith began his broadcasting career in 1970 as an original member of ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football broadcast crew. He was, for 12 seasons (1970-73 and 1977-1984), a key member of the MNF team that forever changed the way football was presented on television. In 1974, Meredith left ABC to work with Curt Gowdy at NBC, but returned in 1977 for a second stretch with MNF that lasted until he retired in 1984. While at NBC he teamed with Gowdy and Al DeRogatis as the broadcast team for Super Bowl IX. Meredith and Gowdy called Super Bowl XI as well.
|Meredith (center) with fellow Monday Night Football broadcasters Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.
The three-man broadcast team was one of the most successful of MNF’s innovations. The first lineup included play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson, and color commentators Meredith and Howard Cosell. In 1971, Jackson was replaced by Frank Gifford. It was that trio – Gifford, Cosell and Meredith – that established MNF as a primetime entertainment “spectacle.”
Meredith, who often referred to himself as “Jeff and Hazel’s baby boy,” combined his insight as a former player with his trademark folksy humor. Joe Falls of the Detroit Free Press once called the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, “the brightest thing to hit TV since somebody got the idea of inventing color.”
Understatement was also a tool Meredith used effectively, such as when he would serenade viewers with his out-of-tune version of “The Party's Over” during blowout games. His relaxed, down-home style was used as a counterbalance to his sometimes controversial broadcast partner, Cosell.
Meredith’s final game as a broadcaster was Super Bowl XIX, which coincidently was the first Super Bowl telecast by ABC.
|Meredith won the Bert Bell Trophy, awarded by the Maxwell Club, as Player of the Year in 1966.
Prior to his celebrated broadcasting career, Meredith had a successful nine-year pro football career with the Cowboys (1960-68). A three-time Pro Bowler, he led Dallas to their first winning season and first-ever championship game in 1966.
He still holds the record for the longest pass completion in franchise history, hooking up on a 95-yard touchdown pass to Bob Hayes on Nov. 13, 1966. Meredith also is tied for the franchise lead for having thrown the most touchdown passes in a single game, completing five in three different games. In 1976, “Dandy Don” as he was called by his fans, was inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.
In addition to his football and broadcasting careers, Meredith also enjoyed a successful acting career, appearing in multiple movies, television shows, and a series of commercials as a product spokesman.
Meredith will receive the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award on Friday, August 3 during the Enshrinees Dinner. That event is the kickoff of the 2007 Enshrinement Festival Weekend and where the Class of 2007 enshrinees – Gene Hickerson, Michael Irvin, Bruce Matthews, Charlie Sanders, Thurman Thomas, and Roger Wehrli – will receive their gold Hall of Fame jackets from each of their presenters.
The Class of 2007 Enshrinement Ceremony takes place the following day at 6:00 PM. This year marks the first time that the ceremony has moved to evening primetime hours. On Sunday, August 5, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints kickoff the preseason in the annual AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game at 8:00 PM.
Previous Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award Winners
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2006 - Lesley Visser
2005 - Myron Cope
2004 - Van Miller
2003 - Don Criqui
2002 - John Madden
2001 - Roone Arledge
2000 - Ray Scott
1999 - Dick Enberg
1998 - Val Pinchbeck
1997 - Charlie Jones
1996 - Jack Buck
1995 - Frank Gifford
1994 - Pat Summerall
1993 - Curty Gowdy
1992 - Chris Schenkel
1991 - Ed Sabol
1990 - Lindsey Nelson
1989 - Bill McPhail