Meredith was a Dandy of an original
VideosDon Meredith dies
Don Meredith arrived in our living rooms at exactly the right time, just as all heck was breaking loose in American media, culture was running a counter play and sober authority figures were falling out of favor for good.
The fact that he did so with a syrupy, good-ol'-boy drawl made the medicine go down more easily in some corners of the country, but make no mistake, the guy was a revolutionary in his way.
Pretenders have spent four decades trying to match his touch, for better and worse - did someone say Tony Siragusa? - but the original edition remains exactly that: an original.
The best thing that happened to Meredith was having a sparring partner such as Howard Cosell, a brash, self-serious New Yorker who served as the perfect foil for the folksy Texan.
Meredith was twice as funny when he was having fun at Cosell's expense. But he was funny enough himself.
One of his finest moments came in a 1972 game in which the Raiders were blowing out the Oilers in Houston and the camera focused on a disgruntled fan. The man promptly made an obscene gesture.
"He thinks they're No. 1 in the nation,'' Meredith cracked.
The timing of Meredith's death allowed him to be recalled on what was certain to be a widely watched Monday night game between the Jets and Patriots.
Gifford called it "mind-boggling'' yesterday how many people he had heard from expressing thoughts and sympathies about his old partner.
"To say that Don was an instant success would be a gross understatement,'' Gifford said in a statement issued by the Giants. "I joined the 'Monday Night Football' team in the second year  and, together with Howard Cosell, we helped change Monday night television into 'Monday Night Football,' or as some people called it, 'Monday Night Madness.' ''
Truth is, the old Monday night gang probably would have taken a beating from 21st century viewers and critics.
Their style at times was sloppily uneven and freewheeling in a way not seen on modern national TV productions. But they were just right for their time.
(He never played a high school, college or NFL home game outside a 100-mile radius of Dallas.)
But everywhere else, he was part of the soundtrack of the NFL's rise to the top of American sports in the 1970s.
Meredith showed us sports television could and should be fun. His trademark singing of "Turn Out the Lights'' when a game's outcome was decided remains a pop culture touchstone.
The song reflected the way many fans of a certain age felt upon hearing the news that Meredith died Sunday at age 72. The party's over.