Turn Out the Lights

From the time I married my soul-mate in December of 1969, I knew I’d either become a football fan or a miserable football “widow.” I chose the former. I learned the game, the players and whatever behind-the-scenes NFL scuttlebutt others talked about in my workplace coffee-break room.

In those early days, we lived in Dallas, and with Tom Landry at the helm of the Cowboys, we became enthusiastic fans. We identified with “America’s Team” before the rest of the world knew them by that name.

It was never simply a question of wins and losses nor my competitive drive desiring for “my” team to stay on top. Becoming a Cowboys fan also meant I became knowledgable about other NFL teams. When the Cowboys played the Redskins, I needed to know something about the history of that rivalry. If they played the Steelers, the Broncos or the 49ers, I learned the facts and lore that contributed to my enjoyment of each game.

Monday nights meant Monday Night Football, an institution of sorts for my husband and me. For all their shortcomings (and there were plenty), Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and “Dandy” Don Meredith composed an easygoing and likable team. One of the most memorable parts of the weekly broadcast took place whenever the game looked to be out of reach of the losing team.

As with the inimitable “fat lady,” we’d often stay tuned for that singular moment when Meredith broke into song … “turn out the lights, the party’s over.” In time, he didn’t even have to finish the line — the first four words were enough.

Don Meredith, aged 72, died today. I didn’t know the man, nor would he be included on my very select list of “heroes.” (Not enough information about him for me to make an educated choice.) Still, I enjoyed the broadcaster he was and the color commentary he contributed to Monday Night Football. RIP.

Renée