Phyllis George Brown, a former Miss America winner and the first female sportscaster to work at a major network, died on Thursday after complications from a blood disorder she had developed in her mid-30s, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Saturday.
She was 70.
George, who won the Miss America pageant in 1971, was hired at CBS as an NFL reporter in 1974 — which made her the first woman sportscaster to do so at a major network. She joined CBS’s pregame show, “The NFL Today” a year later as a co-host, working with Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and Jimmy Snyder.
A People magazine cover featured her in 1976, too, and dubbed her as “TV’s first lady of the locker room.”
George stayed on the show until 1984, and later worked as the co-host of “CBS Morning News.”
The Texas native married former Kentucky Gov. John Brown Jr. in 1979, too, and was widely credited with helping him win the election. The two divorced in 1998, though maintained “a great partnership” and “enjoyed every single day,” Brown said.
"For many, Mom was known by her incredible accomplishments," their children, Lincoln and Pamela Brown, told the Courier-Journal. "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.”
Many in the sports world have credited George as their inspiration for getting into the business, including ESPN’s Beth Mowins — who became the first woman to call a regular-season NFL game in 2017 in 30 years.
“There was a woman talking about football,” Mowins told TheFootballGirl.com about seeing George on CBS, via ESPN. “That’s what I was drawn to. I like sports and like to talk so the two blended together perfectly.”
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