(Authentic Reproduction)





Growing up in the small town of Mount Vernon, Texas Joseph Don Meredith, later to be known nationally as "Jeff and Hazel's boy" once Monday Night Football hit the airways in 1970, followed in the athletic footsteps of older brother Billy Jack. Don was perhaps the better athlete, twice being named to the All State basketball team and scoring fifty-two points in one game at the Dr. Pepper tournament in Dallas. At 6'3" and 190 pounds he made the All State Football squad in 1954 as a junior. Only a broken collarbone prevented a repeat honor in his senior year. The number-one quarterback recruit wasn't shy and told Bear Bryant that he couldn't accept a scholarship to Texas A&M to play for the great coach because he couldn't stand an all-male environment for that period of time. He told TCU's head coach Abe Martin, when told that a country boy like Meredith could "keep on wearing your jeans right here on campus" that he didn't want to wear jeans, he wanted a lot more. Meredith to his credit, worked extremely hard to earn more and entered SMU. As the Southwest Conference MVP Freshman Player, he twisted a foot and needed surgery after spring practice in 1957. By the time he recovered and took over the starting quarterback role for the varsity, which finished at 4-5-1, Head Coach Bill Meek had installed a Spread-T Offense that provided an abundance of passing. In an era of limited passing, Meredith's soph statistics led the conference and included a whopping 71 completions in 102 attempts for 912 yards and a 69.6 completion rate that stood as a national record for decades.
Throughout his SMU career, there was nothing Meredith couldn't do. When he founded a school chapter of The Fellowship Of Christian Athletes, his influence was so pervasive that the university president referred to his school as "Southern Meredith University". Unfortunately, Meredith's insistence on playing all out when on the field and running as well as he passed, running in fact "as if he believed he were Bronco Nagurski" often left him with injuries. A sore arm, concussions, and a severe hip pointer cost him two missed games in a 6-4 '58 campaign, but Don was still All American, led the SWC in scoring, and was third in the Heisman voting. Established as one of the greatest passers in SWC history and an electrifying player, Meredith completed his collegiate career by leading the SWC passers for the third year, leading the conference in total offense, setting a career passing percentage record, making consensus All Conference for the second time, and receiving a number of All American honors. As a runner or passer, all agreed that Don Meredith inspired confidence in his teammates without being cocky and they respected what was an obvious toughness. MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, Meredith was later named to SMU's Team Of The Decade and went on to a sparkling pro career. Drafted by the Bears and traded to the expansion Cowboys, he shared the starting position with Eddie LeBaron until taking over in 1965. Popular with the fans, Meredith established the Cowboys as a full-time title contender, leading them to the NFL Championship Game in 1966 and kept them at that level until retiring before the 1969 season.

This beautiful authentic reproduction of Meredith's helmet reminds us that Coach Meek gave the SMU Ponies the unusual distinction of wearing a white helmet with a Navy blue center stripe and red flanking stripes and Navy blue player numerals on the sides for their home games and alternated it with the headgear shown here, a scarlet red shell with a one-inch Navy blue center stripe flanked by three-quarter-inch white stripes used for away games only, between 1957 and 1961.