American Heroes: Willie Nelson Smoked Pot With Don Meredith


R.I.P. to former quarterback and football announcer “Dandy” Don Meredith, 72, who died Sunday after a brain hemorrhage

By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
​I don’t care what your background, race, creed or gender is… I think there is one thing as Americans we can all agree on: Willie Nelson is truly an American hero. I really can’t think of anyone who runs the gamut of fans like Willie, from the bleachers and pits of NASCAR to the hills of Mendocino.
When I read that the stupid pot charges against Willie were reduced, I just shook my head. Did anyone actually think Willie Nelson would have to go to jail? He could have been convicted up to two years or more under Texas law for the bust.
But would America really let Willie Nelson go to jail? For pot?
I think even the most zealous anti-pot crusader would give Willie a Pasadena when it comes to the Red-Headed Stranger and his walking stick. In a way, Willie and pot is like apple pie and Chevrolet, it is part of our fabric.
Like the War on Christmas, it is another thing we take in stride and laugh off, until it becomes serious.
Who doesn’t know Willie smokes pot? And what does it matter?
I was thinking of Willie this morning reading about the passing of “Dandy” Don Meredith.

Photo: The Maverick King Of Clubs
Willie Nelson back in the day

​I’m not a huge football fan but I watch Monday Night Football every so often. In their tribute last night during half-time for Mr. Meredith, they recalled the antics between him, Frank Gifford and especially, Howard Cosell.
It was very moving and reminded me why I liked Don; he was a cool jock. Just when you thought he was just a hick, he was incredibly funny and witty.
He was a lot more than a football player. He was a TV personality before TV had personality. For an athlete, he was pretty radical.
I went to college in Dallas in the mid-70s. Down in Austin, I caught Willie, Jerry Jeff, Guy, and many other troubadours that turned me onto the so-called outlaw scene. In those days, Willie still had rather short hair, if you know what I mean…But many of us knew he was cool.

Photo: My 2 Cents
When it became apparent it was impossible for the other team to come back, Don Meredith broke the tension with Willie’s song, “The Party’s Over”

​One night while watching Monday Night Football — I forget which team was crushing the other — but when it was apparent it was impossible for the other team to come back, Don Meredith broke the tension with Willie’s song, “The Party’s Over.”
I remember thinking how cool it was to give Willie a shout-out. This was more than thirty years ago, before we could laugh at Willie getting busted for…what? Pot?
That would be like busting Dick Cheney for lying. Who knows he doesn’t?
Many years later I was with Willie in his bus after a show in Vegas. (In Texas, he was busted for six ounces. You know he started with more…that’s all I’m saying…)
So I’m in the tour bus with Willie with mucho producto burning, we’re talking about Austin and the early days and other stuff.
I ask Willie about what it was like when Mr. Meredith did his song on Monday Night Football. Willie was modest at first, reminding me he wrote for other people first before performing his own songs.
He said he was thrilled and it was good for his pocketbook. We had a good laugh at that…
Over a huge blunt I wondered if Willie ever smoked with Mr. Meredith. I mean, he seemed really cool for a jock.
Quote, unquote from Willie Nelson. “I can’t say personally that Don got high for every Monday Night game he did, except for the 40 or 50 times we did before he headed to the booth.”
One day pot will be legal and America will realize if Willie Nelson and Don Meredith got high…how bad can it be?
Rest in Peace, Don Meredith.
You were cool before people knew what cool was…

Photo: Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.