Meredith's wife, Susan, told The Associated Press on Monday her husband died in Santa Fe after suffering a brain hemorrhage and lapsing into a coma. She and her daughter were at Meredith's side when he died.
"He was the best there was," she said, describing him as kind, warm and funny. "We lost a good one."
She said a private graveside service was being planned and that family members were traveling to Santa Fe.
Meredith played for the Cowboys from 1960-1968, becoming the starting quarterback in 1965. While he never led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, Meredith was one of the franchise's first stars.
"Don Meredith was one of the most colorful characters in NFL history. He was star on the field who became an even bigger star on television," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "He brought joy to football fans, from his play in historic NFL games like the Ice Bowl to his great personality that helped launch the success of Monday Night Football."
A terrific piece on Meredith was written by Curt Sampson for D Magazine in October. If you are too young (as I am) to fully grasp what Meredith meant to Dallas and the Cowboys, it's a great and timely read.