Marrying Television, Football Gained An Audience But Lost A Game

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Dig Sherry Kafka's 1973 Texas Monthly article on Don Meredith: "Tuning In Dandy Don":

"Because of my television 'role," Meredith says, "with Howard Cosell cast as the black-hatted guy and me, the white-hatted guy, a lot of people are sympathetic and feel that Howard really runs over me and picks on me. I'm like their little boy."

Meredith is candid about this, too. "It's a hard thing to keep your head together," he says, "because there are lots of people in the past that you've had respect for, and you thought you had a rapport with them; and then you realize, why, these people didn't have the faintest idea what you were all about." The expression in his voice is not bitter, but it is knowledgeable. And wary.

Could it be that Mt. Vernon has given a dual legacy to her gifted native son? Everybody knows of his strong and developed strain of quick, effective country humor. Frank Gifford remarked that Meredith could say "Good morning" and it would be funny.

But there is another trait—more subtle but equally strong—a trait of tough, country-boy shrewdness and native intelligence. (Meredith himself hints at this trait when, discussing some incident, he describes himself as being "very country and sensitive.") These tandem attributes seem to balance him and enable him to sort out the terms on which he wants to live.

Don Meredith wants to pursue an acting career. But, again, he is wary. "I've been interested in acting for a long time," he explains, "but I went into the stock brokerage business after I got out of pro football. I really didn't like it at all. I was trying to wear another hat and—well, it was bad. After a year I knew that this was something I didn't want to do anymore, so I decided to pursue something that I liked. I made a choice to be an actor, and I signed with Dick Clayton, a very fine motion picture agent whom I met through Burt Reynolds. But the tough thing about my getting into acting is that they still want me to do football coaches and football players, ex-football players. Those roles just don't interest me at all. Occasionally, there'll be a Western or a war movie—but still I'd just be an ex-football player."