Phyllis George, Former NFL Broadcaster and Kentucky 1st Lady, Dies at Age 70

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 16, 2020

Phyllis George, one of the first woman sports commentators arrives at the Museum of Television and Radio
STEPHEN CHERNIN/Associated Press

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," Brown said. "She was an incredible first lady for Kentucky."

George was also a pioneer in women's broadcasting, becoming the first female sportscaster in the United States, per Texas Monthly in 2001. George co-hosted The NFL Today alongside Brent Musburger and Irv Cross from 1975 to 1984.

George, who was named Miss Texas in 1970, won the Miss America pageant in 1971.

"We knew we were in trouble when we saw Phyllis on the campaign trail," former Democratic Gov. Julian Carroll, who supported Brown's opponent Terry McBrayer, said.

"The crowds would come out to see her. You could not be around Phyllis and not have great affection for her. She had energy, charisma, beauty and was a strong people person."

Following her tenure as first lady, George became involved in numerous endeavors, including the creation of the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation. She also briefly co-hosted CBS Morning News, hosted television shows on TNN and made her silver-screen debut in Meet the Parents, which starred Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller.

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.