Former Miss America, NFL broadcaster Phyllis George dies

Phyllis George
Photo from STEPHEN CHERNIN/Associated Press

We have some sad news to report.

Phyllis George, the former first lady of Kentucky and co-host of CBS Sports’ The NFL Today, died Thursday at the age of 70 because of a blood disorder.

Her former husband, ex-Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., released the news, per Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Phyllis was a fighter and her children have shown her incredible love during this struggle,” Gov. Brown said. “She was an incredible first lady for Kentucky.

Born in Denton, Texas, in 1949, George moved to New York City after becoming Miss America. She began her broadcasting career as a co-host on Candid Camera. Soon thereafter, CBS Sports producers approached George to become a sportscaster.

Not only George was named Miss Texas in 1970 , she also was also named the Miss America pageant in 1971

When she joined the cast of ”The NFL Today,” she became one of the first females to have a nationally prominent role in television sports coverage.

“In my gut, I thought Phyllis was pretty special,” the late Bob Wussler, who hired George in 1974, once told USA Today. “I thought there was a role for her, as somebody who could talk to guys who knew something about sports.”

During her stint at “The NFL Today” from 1975 until 1984 and as co-host of CBS Morning News for eight months in 1985, George was also regularly taken to task by critics who charged that she didn’t know sports and she didn’t know news.

“[Being Miss America] has been a help and a hindrance,” George once told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been a help in that it’s opened doors. It’s been a hindrance in that people immediately said ‘BQ’ — you know, beauty queen. And you had to prove yourself more than the next person.”

George cited Emmys garnered by “The NFL Today” as evidence that she mastered the sports interview.

“I kept showing up and they kept saying, ‘Hey, maybe she’s here to stay,'” George said. “Then we won a couple of Emmys for the ‘NFL Today’ show.”

In addition to “The NFL Today,” George worked regularly on horse racing events, including the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Per Deborah Yetter of the Courier-Journal, Brown said that their two children, technology entrepreneur Lincoln Brown and CNN reporter Pamela Brown, had spent time with George the past few weeks to care for their ailing mother.

George married Brown, a millionaire, in 1979. They divorced in 1998 and have two children.

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