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Phyllis George, Pioneering NFL Sportscaster, dies at age 70 by Associated Press

Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS program The NFL Today and served as the first lady of Kentucky, has died. She was 70. A family spokeswoman said George died Thursday at a Lexington, Kentucky, hospital after a long fight with a blood disorder. Named Miss America in 1971, George joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on The NFL Today. George spent three seasons on the live pregame show, returned in 1980 and left in 1983, winning plaudits for her warmth of her interviews with star athletes.“Phyllis George was special. Her smile lit up millions of homes for the NFL Today,“ Musburger tweeted. “Phyllis didn’t receive nearly enough credit for opening the sports broadcasting door for the dozens of talented women who took her lead and soared.”From Denton, Texas, George attended the University of North Texas for three years, then went to Texas Christian University after earning a scholarship as Miss Texas in 1970. The industry discovered her after she co-hosted Candid Camera and the Miss America pageant. She received a 13-week option from CBS in 1974 without a defined role. But a popular interview with reluctant Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens soon earned her a three-year deal and paved the way to her breakthrough role the next year on The NFL Today. Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports, called George’s hiring as part of The NFL Today team a groundbreaking decision that changed the face of sports television.“She had an openness and enthusiasm that made her a valuable contributor,” Pilson said.“She didn’t claim to know a tremendous amount about sports, but she knew about people, which is why her interviews resonated. She could do the best interviews with athletes and family members. She was a warm person and that came through on the set and in the interviews.”ESPN sportscaster Hannah Storm remembered George as “the ultimate trailblazer” who inspired other women by showing that careers in sportscasting could be within their grasp.“A lot of times when you’re dreaming of something as a career option, you have to see it in order to believe it,” she said. “And someone has to be first, and that was Phyllis.”“People were uncomfortable with the idea of seeing a woman on TV talking about sports in a prominent role. But someone has to go first. I give her so much respect for truly her courage. She had to put herself out there. Phyllis George did something out of the norm. And I’m forever grateful for her leading the way.”George wasn’t the first woman to report on the NFL but made her entrance around the time that other women were getting their starts, too. Jane Chastain was hired at CBS in 1974 and became the first female announcer on an NFL telecast that fall. Lesley Visser became the first female NFL beat writer during a 14-year career at The Boston Globe that started in 1974. Visser said George “always made you feel important and warm. I never heard her talk about anyone in a negative way.

Former Miss America became a trailblazer for women in sports journalism with The NFL Today on CBS

Phyllis George, the former Miss America who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS program The NFL Today and served as the first lady of Kentucky, has died. She was 70.

A family spokeswoman said George died Thursday at a Lexington, Kentucky, hospital after a long fight with a blood disorder.

Named Miss America in 1971, George joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on The NFL Today. George spent three seasons on the live pregame show, returned in 1980 and left in 1983, winning plaudits for her warmth of her interviews with star athletes.

“Phyllis George was special. Her smile lit up millions of homes for the NFL Today,“ Musburger tweeted. “Phyllis didn’t receive nearly enough credit for opening the sports broadcasting door for the dozens of talented women who took her lead and soared.”

From Denton, Texas, George attended the University of North Texas for three years, then went to Texas Christian University after earning a scholarship as Miss Texas in 1970.

The industry discovered her after she co-hosted Candid Camera and the Miss America pageant. She received a 13-week option from CBS in 1974 without a defined role. But a popular interview with reluctant Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens soon earned her a three-year deal and paved the way to her breakthrough role the next year on The NFL Today.

Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports, called George’s hiring as part of The NFL Today team a groundbreaking decision that changed the face of sports television. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/may/17/phyllis-george-pioneering-nfl-sportscaster-dies-at-age-70

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