Phyllis George smashed a glass ceiling 45 years ago when she became a correspondent for CBS's fledgling «The NFL Today,» the first woman to regularly report on pro football on network TV. She was a Miss America (1971) reporting on America's game, surrounded by men on set and in the field.
George worked on the show for 6 1/2 years over two stints before leaving for good in 1983. Her work on that groundbreaking series left a lasting impression, something that became clear Saturday after her death at age 70 from a blood disorder was announced.
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Brent Musburger, who became a sports TV power player as host of «The NFL Today,» penned a tribute.
Jayne Kennedy, who succeeded and then was replaced by George, understood what George accomplished.
My heart breaks, #PhyllisGeorgehas died. Because of her I became a pioneer in the world of women sports broadcasters when I took the NFL TODAY desk. Ironically in all these years we never met! Thank you Phyllis for opening the door. Believe me I know the challenges you faced. 💔 pic.twitter.com/6ETMQ4htPg
— Jayne Kennedy (@PlainJayneKO) May 16, 2020
CBS added its own statement.
But there were also countless tributes (and words of gratitude) by female broadcasters whom George inspired:
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
— Michele Tafoya (@Michele_Tafoya) May 16, 2020
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. ❤️
— Hannah Storm (@HannahStormESPN) May 16, 2020
Women tell me all the time that I’m and inspiration because I do sports journalism-Phyllis George did it more than 30 years before me. It must have been tough. https://t.co/tpWIKe2EEy
— Liz Habib (@LizHabib) May 16, 2020