Pioneering CBS Sports Broadcaster Phyllis George Dies at Age 70

By A.J. Katz 

Famed CBS Sports broadcaster Phyllis George passed away in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday as a result of complications from a blood disorder.

She was 70 years old.

George’s daughter, CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown, confirmed the news to CNN’s Brian Stelter.


Brown and her brother, entrepreneur Lincoln Brown, also released a separate statement:

“For many, Mom was known by her incredible accomplishments,” Lincoln and Pamela Brown said. “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.”

Her ex-husband, former Kentucky governor John Brown Jr., told the Louisville Courier-Journal earlier today: “Phyllis was a great asset to Kentucky. We had a great partnership. I think we enjoyed every single day.”

Miss America 1971, George was hired by CBS Sports in 1974, becoming the first female sportscaster to ever work at a broadcast network.

George joined the popular CBS NFL pregame show in 1975, The NFL Today, working alongside the legendary Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and, later, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

In addition to The NFL Today, George called horse racing events for CBS Sports, including the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, and worked on the Rose Bowl Game when CBS had broadcast rights to “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

“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,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Phyllis was not only a key member of a show that remains the gold standard of NFL pregame shows, the NFL Today with Brent, Irv and ‘The Greek,’ but also a pioneer for all women in broadcasting.”

While beloved by her on- and off-air colleagues, George was apparently bombed with hate mail over the years from angry male football fans. George acknowledged that it came with the territory.

“When you’re the first, you’re a pioneer,” George told USA Today in a 1999 interview. “I felt they didn’t know who Phyllis George was. They played me up as a former Miss America, a sex symbol. I can’t help how I look, but below the surface, I was a hard-working woman. If I hadn’t made that work, women eventually would have come into sportscasting, but it would have taken them longer.”

In addition to her work in the sports arena, George teamed with Bill Kurtis on the CBS Morning News for eight months in 1985.

Hannah Storm, an influential sportscaster in her own right, has noted George’s influence on multiple occasions. She tweeted her thoughts on George’s passing: