The news of former Dallas Cowboy football great and NFL television color commentator “Dandy” Don Meredith’s death had barely become part of the daily news cycle when I got a Facebook message reading: “Remember the picture you took of me and Dandy at the 1980 Olympics? It’s still on the wall in my office.”
I do remember it and for those new to this blog, here’s a reprise of my Dandy Don story.
Getting around the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York was a pain. The transportation system simply wasn’t functioning well. The only people getting to where they wanted to go were those working for ABC Television, the official network of the Games.
One day while waiting for a bus, a friend who was doing color commentary work for ABC at the Games told me if I could hang out with him for a short taping session he’d get a van to deliver me anyplace I wanted to go.
I went to the taping which turned out to be one with Dandy Don who was supposed to make some complimentary remarks about the sport of cross-country skiing that would be used to lead into the live telecasts of the races.
Well, Dandy Don couldn’t quite do it. He found the sport, “kinda dumb” and made some hysterical on-camera remarks about it only to be told to “keep it positive” by my friend and a director.
Resplendent in a long fur coat that looked like it had been plucked from a photograph of life and times in the Yukon in 1849, a cowboy hat and boots, Dandy looked just dandy.
The fact that he was a bit tipsy made him even harder to direct. The planned short filming session took and hour with Dandy sipping away from a flask that would appear from deep inside the great fur coat.
Finally, the director called it a wrap and Dandy, myself and my friend headed off in a van to ABC headquarters. Dandy sipped away throughout the trip telling jokes and making observations on the lunacy of the Olympic Games.
By the time we got to ABC headquarters, Dandy was in pretty sad shape. My pal and I helped him out of the van and sat him down on a nearby snowmobile where he immediately fell asleep, cowboy hat over his face. And that’s when my I took the picture.