Thursday is one of the better looking days of the week. We’re past the midpoint, tomorrow is Friday, and I have my weekly kickball game tonight so I know exactly the pressure that those LLWS kids are going through.
One thing those kids like to do on social media is a dealio called “Throwback Thursday” where they pay homage to something that happened last year, last month, last week, or two minutes ago with a picture.
Welcome to the Throwback Thursday edition of our Countdown To Kickoff series here at Inside The Star. Today we are throwing it back with the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History – a player who did his fair share of throwing forward.
The Following Players Have All Worn 17 For The Dallas Cowboys:
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys Roster/Staff
The current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, wore the number 17 proudly for a few years in the 1990s. While Coach Garrett is an all-around star, today belongs to someone else.
The admittance of the Dallas Cowboys into the National Football League happened a little too late to allow them to participate in the 1960 NFL Draft. Imagine that, becoming an NFL team but not being allowed to participate in the annual drafting of players… how hard would that be?!
Clint Murchison, owner of the Cowboys, had his eye on a former SMU quarterback who he thought could put the right touch on his brand new team. When Murchison signed this fella he didn’t technically have his team yet.
“The contract read, ‘If we get a National Football League franchise, we’d like for you to play quarterback,'” spoken in the words of the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History… the legendary Don Meredith.
The Original Cowboy
On November 28th, 1959 Don Meredith signed a personal services contract for the would-be Dallas Cowboys. If they happened, he happened.
As fate would have it the Dallas Cowboys officially joined the NFL for competitive play in the 1960 season. Fate also allowed for Eddie Lebaron to get the starting nod at the most important position on the team, making Don the backup for two years.
After splitting time in 1962, Don Meredith became the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in 1963… and put them on the ride of their lives.
Meredith Makes The Cowboys
Don Meredith helped the upstart Cowboys improve year after year starting in 1963. 4 wins in 1963 turned into 5 the next year, and 7 followed in 1965. When the 1966 season hit they were ready to compete at a high level.
The Cowboys rode the arm of Pro Bowler Meredith in 1966 as he passed for 24 touchdowns and a career-high 2,805 yards. They made their way to the NFL Championship Game… the winner of which would advance to the firs ever “Super Bowl.”
Don fought valiantly against Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, throwing for 238 yards and a score, but the Cowboys lost on New Year’s Day, determined to bounce back in 1967.
Fast forward one year and you’d find the Cowboys and Packers squaring off in the NFL Championship Game yet again… at the literally frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The famed “Ice Bowl” saw Meredith and his Cowboys lose yet again, but established Dallas as one of the elite teams in the NFL.
If there were ever a hometown hero, it was Don Meredith. He hailed from Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Texas and played collegiately at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
As a result of his Texas roots, Cowboy fans universally adored Dandy Don. He had an incredible charm about him and was such an outgoing person that people gravitated towards his energy. This energy was apparent on the football field as well; Meredith had a level of grit and toughness that was rarely seen during those days, earning him 3 Pro Bowl nods from 1966-1968.
Don Meredith was the life of the party whether on the field, with the fans, or as it would be later… in the broadcast booth.
Turn Out The Lights
The NFL-AFL merger became official in 1970 and so did Don Meredith’s spot in the broadcast booth for ABC’s Monday Night Football. He worked with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, applying his lighthearted touch to the call which made for legendary broadcasts for fans everywhere.
When a game seemed to be put away Don Meredith would add the cherry on top of another great call with his rendition of a classic Willie Nelson tune.
“Turn out the lights, the party’s over…”
If you watched Monday Night Football in those days then you know that it wasn’t complete until Don Meredith serenaded us in his usual charismatic fashion.
I was at the last game ever at Texas Stadium. They literally turned out the lights, played Meredith’s rendition, and it was one of the most spectacular things that I’ve ever been a part of.
#17: Don Meredith
The Original Cowboy helped the team survive the 1960s and reach a level of respect throughout the National Football League. Don Meredith was one of the more charming football players of his era, leaving his mark on both the game and in the booth. A member of the Ring of Honor (enshrined in 1976), Don Meredith is one of the most revered Dallas Cowboys of all-time.
It is without question, without a single doubt in my mind, and with a twang in my voice that I propose a toast to the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History – Don Meredith.
Cheers to you, Don. We’ll turn out the lights when the party’s over.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 16 in Dallas Cowboys History is!