The first full football game I ever watched was the 1966 NFL championship game* between the Dallas Cowboys and the Vince Lombardi-led Green Bay Packers. I was 10 years old and didn’t know anything about either team, but I found myself cheering for the Cowboys, maybe because I liked their uniforms better or it seemed they were the underdog. Or maybe it was just because I got the concept of a cowboy, while I had no idea what a packer was supposed to be.
Dallas ended up losing that game, but it was exciting right down to the end and it was then I became a lifelong Dallas Cowboy fan (well before they became “America’s Team” they were my team). And what a fun team to root for. They had great players in Bob Lilly, Bob Hayes, Lee Roy Jordan, Jethro Pugh and Don Perkins. But my favorite was the quarterback, Don Meredith. He led them into the playoffs the next two seasons, including another matchup against the Packers in the infamous Ice Bowl, which they lost on the last play of the game. And then Meredith abruptly retired — I think he quipped at the time that when he saw Roger Staubach spending his leave from the Navy practicing with the Cowboys, he knew it was time to depart.
Meredith went on to be a star on Monday Night Football telecasts for the next 15 years. Then he disappeared from the limelight. He died yesterday at the age of 72.
Thank you, Dandy Don, for giving me some wonderful memories.
*Even though the Packers went on to play the Kansas City Chiefs in what became known as the Super Bowl, the AFL had yet to merge with the NFL, so the game between Dallas and Green Bay was the NFL Championship.