Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith (17) gets set to throw a pass circa 1967. 

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith (17) gets set to throw a pass circa 1967. 

Tony Tomsic/Tony Tomsic

OK, we're not going to be the bad guys and give away the surprise ending to Quentin Tarantino's wild new movie, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, but there is a local connection that pops up unexpectedly in the moments before the closing credits.

Keep in mind that the film is set in 1969, a truly bizarre year that included men walking on the moon; Sen. Edward Kennedy driving a car off a bridge in Massachusetts, killing his female passenger and his hopes for the White House; and, of course, Woodstock, an outdoor music festival that drew more than 400,000 to a field in the Catskill Mountains.

The summer of 1969 was remembered for each of those milestones and for the horror of the Manson Family slayings, in which a cult led by Charles Manson murdered seven people in Los Angeles over a two-day period. Among their victims was Sharon Tate, a Hollywood actress who happened to be pregnant — and who was born in Dallas. The Manson family is central to Tarantino's film.

But one image in the film caught us by surprise. A major character is seen wearing the No. 17 jersey of Dallas Cowboys great "Dandy" Don Meredith. That's the white jersey with blue numerals and blue stripes. NFL players did not have names stitched on their jerseys until the 1970 season. So, the name "MEREDITH" does not appear on the outerwear, but there's no question that it's identical to the white-with-blue trim jersey worn by Dandy Don, who, incidentally, was the first player ever signed by the Cowboys. It was not at all common in 1969 for fans to wear the jerseys of their favorite teams or players, but there it is, raising the question: What does it mean?

Meredith retired unexpectedly on July 5, 1969, barely a month before the Manson Family slayings, but there he is, or at least there's his jersey — popping up as a possible symbol in Tarantino's hot new movie.

On Thursday night, we reached out to Michael Meredith, the only son of Dandy Don. Michael, who is also a filmmaker, had just finished seeing Tarantino's movie in a Los Angeles theater, on opening night.

"That's the craziest thing," he said with a laugh. "But that is definitely my dad's jersey. I'm dying to solve the mystery of why Tarantino put my dad's jersey into the final frame of the movie." 

Michael has since embarked on a quest "to solve the mystery" and we expect him to score.

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