Don Meredith, who had as much to do with the success of Monday Night Football as Howard Cosell, died yesterday at the age of 72. He had emphysema and had also had a stroke a few years ago.

I liked Meredith, having seen him play in the NFL championship game on Jan. 1, 1967 in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. How I got to go to the Cowboy-Packers championship game is a story in itself.

I came to Dallas from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls to see my Georgia Bulldogs play SMU, Meredith’s alma mater, in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia handily won that game 24-9 and I was wandering around the Texas Fairgrounds the next day when a total stranger came up to me and asked if I was a serviceman. I said yes and he gave me and my friend two tickets to the NFL championship game that was starting in about an hour.

I was not much of a Cowboy fan (then or now), but I was definitely not a Packer fan, so I rooted for Meredith and despaired with all of Texas when a Cowboy drive stalled on the 2-yard-line as time expired, giving Green Bay the win. He may have lost that game, but he gained NFL immortality four years later when Monday Night Football debuted on ABC.

RIP, Dandy Don.