Letter from the Editor: Phyllis George Paved the Way

Letter from the Editor: Phyllis George Paved the Way

By Marla Jones, Managing/Sports Editor • marla@southerntorch.com (Photo via USA Today)

USA — Phyllis George, the first female co-anchor of  “NFL Today,” passed away on Thursday after a long fight with a rare blood disorder.  

The seventy-year-old paved the way for many women who wanted to become involved in sports coverage, including me.

I remember as a young girl, watching in awe as she did the football pregame show on Sundays.  She covered the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, and the Belmont Stakes. Watching her, I knew that was what I wanted to do someday. 

In her 2002 memoir, George wrote that a male friend told her sportscasting wouldn't work because it was a man's job. George acknowledged that she knew nothing about the sports industry and had no experience or another female mentor to follow.  Walking onto the football field, as the first DeKalb County female sports editor for Southern Torch, I felt the same way. 

Several times, I was mistaken for a mom on the field taking pictures of her child. I have had to show my credentials more than once to be allowed on the field.  I can only imagine how scary it was for George to be a pioneer in professional sports coverage.

George achieved many honors in life. She was crowned the 50th Miss America in 1971. After “The NFL Today” she went on to host Candid Camera and the television version of People Magazine.  

In 1979, George married John Y. Brown Jr. After a successful political campaign, Brown was elected Governor of Kentucky.  While her time as the First Lady of Kentucky, George founded the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation.  The foundation successfully marketed “Kentucky crafts” in several well-known department stores including Bloomingdales. 

 In 1985, George was named the co-anchor of CBS Morning News. 

George is survived by her two children, Lincoln Tyler George Brown, a Lexington entrepreneur, and Pamela Ashley Brown, a White House correspondent for CNN.

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