Don Meredith: “Jaunty, Courageous, Frustrating”

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This post is part of the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series.

(If the indignity of being booed and harassed otherwise was not enough for Don Meredith, the picture above from Life Magazine in 1968 probably was enough.)

After Dallas lost to Cleveland in the 1968 playoffs, Meredith played two more games. The first was the Playoff Bowl, in which Dallas beat Minnesota 17-13 on January 5, 1969. The second was the Pro Bowl that was played on January 19. Meredith started the game ahead of New York’s Fran Tarkenton. The Pro Bowl was the last game Meredith ever played.

In April 1969, the Cowboys announced that former Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach would join the Cowboys since his commitment to the Navy was up.

Three months later, Staubach was reportedly “floored” when Meredith announced that he would retire from football at the age of 30. He retired with a record of 48-33-4, which was remarkable given that he played many of his games when the Dallas franchise was still in its infancy. His 17,199 passing yards rank fourth on the team’s all-time last, as do his 135 touchdown passes.

Meredith had been the subject of retirement rumors in both 1967 and 1968, so the news during the summer of 1969 was not a complete surprise. The timing of the announcement was, however, given that the team’s training camp was schedule to open less than two weeks later.

The Dallas Morning News description of Meredith at the time of his retirement: “Jaunty, Courageous, Frustrating.” Nevertheless,

[i]t would be hard for anyone – even the boo-birds whose harsh catcalls were to gnaw at Don Meredith’s soul on many a restless, sleepless night – to put aside all nostaltia when the Cowboy quarterback announced his retirement . . . .

Meredith’s comment when he retired:

I thought I would start off by telling you I had bought a one-third interest in a New York bar, but I decided to play it straight.

  • Tim Truemper

    As noted in the other posts, the fact Meredith retired early did much to change the landscape of the Cowboy QB future. I’m not sure if Meredith would have “stuck” as the starter without a championship win. Landry certainly liked Morton’s demeanor better and Staubach’s competitiveness and skill may have shone through. But it’s all speculation.

    I hated that Meredith retired early, but then that’s life. And “Dandy” went on to more fame and fortune in other arenas.