NFL fans of a certain vintage (read: old bastards like me and Jerry) remember well the name Phyllis George. She was the first woman to co-host a football show on TV and not just any old show. It was "The NFL Today" in an era when the nation had three national channels to choose from. And she nailed it in both of her stints on CBS's pigskin pre-game mainstay.
Sadly, the groundbreaking journalist passed away at 70 due to a blood disorder. Her children released a statement:
(The Dallas News)---“For many, Mom was known by her incredible accomplishments as the pioneering female sportscaster, 50th Miss America and first lady. But this was all before we were born and never how we viewed Mom. To us, she was the most incredible mother we could ever ask for, and it is all of the defining qualities the public never saw, especially against the winds of adversity, that symbolize how extraordinary she is more than anything else. The beauty so many recognized on the outside was a mere fraction of her internal beauty, only to be outdone by an unwavering spirit that allowed her to persevere against all the odds.”
The native Texan first landed on the nation's radar when she was crowned Miss America in 1971, back when it was still a big deal. After co-hosting "The New Candid Camera" with Alan Funt in 1974, she was soon signed by CBS to a 13-week option. A year later, she was sitting at the same desk with Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, and Jimmy "The Greek", filling in America on that day's slate and interviewing players in her folksy style that won even the hardest-core chauvinists over. Simultaneously, she was also giving young girls in the U.S. a new idea about what they can do when they grow up.
She left CBS in 1977 to work for People magazine's TV show but returned to "The NFL Today" from 1980-83, endearing her to a new generation of fans. She'd later become the First Lady of Kentucky when husband John Y. Brown became governor. Broadcasting was hardly the only mark she left---George was also a successful author and entrepreneur---but it's where she left her largest and most important one. Also, it can't be overstated just how much grit and mental toughness she needed to do what she did when she did it. And she did with flying colors.
Barstool Sports sends its condolences to the family and friends of Phyllis.