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ABTV Remembers Phyllis George
These are the words many use to describe Phyllis George as they reflect on her life. The sports journalist pioneer has passed away at age 70.
It is because of women like George that I’m able to write about sports today. She broke down barriers and proved women belong in the sports industry.
“An ex-Miss America becomes TV’s first lady of the locker room,” was how she was described on the cover of People Magazine in 1976.
While George received repeated criticism for lacking the proper credentials to work in sports broadcasting, she tackled adversity with poise and grace. Two of the characteristics she’s most known for.
She navigated rough waters for all those to come after her. One of her most famous quotes was told to People magazine in 1976, “I’m from Texas and down there you follow the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys or you don’t belong.”
As a woman from Texas, this statement has always resonated with me. And while I was raised to be a Texas A&M Aggie, her statement still holds true. Football in Texas is just different and provides a passage for anyone to have passion and knowledge of sports.
George was hired in 1974 by CBS, becoming the first female sports broadcaster to work at a major television network. Then, in 1975, she became a co-host on CBS’ The NFL Today, joining well-known broadcasters Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and Jimmy Snyder. Which still to this day is the gold-standard for NFL pregame shows.
George spent the majority of her career with CBS. The PR department posted the following statement to Twitter on Saturday.
“The CBS Sports family is deeply saddened by the passing of Phyllis George, an icon in the sports broadcasting industry who contributed greatly to the rich history and tradition of CBS Sports.”
ESPN’s Hannah Storm tweeted her condolences by calling George, “A true pioneer who approached her job with enthusiasm, empathy and humor.”
Rest In Peace Phyllis George 🙏🏻. A true pioneer who approached her job with enthusiasm, empathy and humour. She was herself-charming and funny ..helped her audiences connect with some of the great sports figures of the day. Condolences to her family & all who loved her. ❤️
Storm went on to credit George with a charming, funny personality that helped her audiences connect with some of the great sports figures of her time.
In an email to the New York Times, Storm also said, “Sometimes you have to see it to be it; you have to know something is a career option in order to aspire to it. Which means someone has to be first. That was Phyllis George – a true trailblazer.”
The news spread rapidly of George’s passing, which led to many tv personalities sharing their experiences and praise for the sports broadcaster.
Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and 1981 NFL MVP, Ken Anderson, recalled a time when George went to his home for an interview prior to Super Bowl 16.
“My son still remembers that day,” tweeted Anderson. “We will never forget that moment when she showed up in our driveway.”
RIP Phyllis George. She came to my house to interview me before Super Bowl 16. My son still remembers that day. We will never forget that moment when she showed up in our driveway . #kentucky
Present day icon Michele Tafoya – most known for her time as the sideline reporter for NBC’s Sunday Night Football – tweeted George was an early inspiration for her. She added, “[George] had it all – brains, beauty, grace and the kind of tenacity she needed in that era.”
So sad to hear the news about Phyllis George. She was an early inspiration for me. She had it all — brains, beauty, grace and the kind of tenacity she needed for that era. Just 70 — way too young. I will always remember her as a pioneer. #RIP
ESPN personality Jason Wilde, who’s accreditation lies deep with the coverage of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, reflected on watching George every Sunday.
Every Sunday growing up in Wisconsin, it was Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, Jimmy The Greek and Irv Cross for me before watching the #Packers, who invariably played at noon. So many memories of that show (and the theme song). She was a true trailblazer. #RIPhttps://t.co/40USN2crk7pic.twitter.com/z1WbBphLDR
Phyllis George, former Kentucky first lady and Miss America, dies at 70 ; so sad to hear this, as Phyllis broke barriers for women in Sports Television. It wasn’t easy, and well documented that many made it tough on her. Proud to have known her. 🙏🙏RIP. https://t.co/hW7Uojec0F
Even President Donald Trump addressed George’s death tweeting, “The NFL could not have made a better ‘pick’ when they chose Phyllis to be the first woman to represent them.”
Phyllis George was a great person and a true pioneer for women in television. The NFL could not have made a better “pick” when they choose Phyllis to be the first woman to represent them. Also, a wonderful First Lady of Kentucky as the wife of Gov. John Y. Brown….
A family spokeswoman said George passed away Thursday at a Kentucky hospital after a long fight with a blood disorder diagnosed 35 years ago.
A joint statement from her children claimed they had “the most incredible mother we could ever ask for.”
The statement went on to say, “For many, Mom was known by her incredible accomplishments as the pioneering female sportscaster, 50th Miss America and first lady (of Kentucky), 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 final sentence of their statement, I think, really encompasses who Phyllis George was, and not just what she did. Her children said, “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 odds.”
Haley Graves is a host at AfterBuzz TV. She co-hosts on the panels for NBC’s This Is Us, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and CW’s Legacies.
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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