Why does this feel like women are being teased into this place? The last woman to call play by play for an NFL regular season game was Gayle Sierens, who retired in 2015 after a long career as a news anchor in Tampa, Fla. For those too young to remember, Sierens was assigned by NBC Sports to call the Seahawks-Chiefs game on Dec. 27, 1987, a game played on the final week of the regular season that year. Following that broadcast and good reviews, then-NBC Sports executive producer Mike Weisman offered Sierens six more games for the following season. But Sierens’ local NBC station did not want her to call more games and miss work. So Sierens never called another NFL game!
How ironic!!! Woman have done and are doing phenomenal things in the world of sports why does this seem like a big CHANGE to make? One every 30 years is that where we are?
You are now officially updated on all the women who have served as game-callers for an NFL regular season game.
That is about to change, according to multiple sources.
ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins will be given the play by play assignment for the Sept. 11 game between Chargers and Broncos in Denver, the late game of the Monday Night Football opening week doubleheader. Former Bills and Jets head coach Rex Ryan is likely to be her game analyst. Ryan was hired by ESPN in April and the Monday Night Football assignment would be his debut as an NFL color commentator. Mowins and Ryan called the Florida State spring game together last April.
For the past two seasons Mowins has called the Raiders’ exhibition games in addition to her college football schedule. This gives her a ton more full-time football game-calling experience than two broadcasters ESPN previously assigned to call the back end of the MNF doubleheader: Mike Greenberg and Chris Berman.
“Beth Mowins has excelled as play by play announcer for the Raiders’ preseason football, demonstrating unmatched professionalism, work ethic and passion for her craft,” said Vittorio De Bartolo, the executive producer of broadcasting for the Oakland Raiders and the team official who recruited Mowins for the Oakland broadcasting job. “As executive producer I appreciated Beth’s enthusiasm for studying and preparing for each game. She took advantage of every opportunity during training camp to watch practice and chat with Raiders players, coaches and personnel in the days leading up to kickoff, all of which helped make for a better Raiders Preseason broadcast.” It’s no coincidence that in her first year as play by play announcer in 2015, the Raiders’ preseason football broadcast received a Northern California Area Emmy nomination. “I am more than confident Beth can call an NFL game for a national audience. Her resume and body of work speaks for itself in addition to the seamless transition she made from the college game to the NFL game.”
Last November, during a symposium on the future of sports television at the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland, NFL Network correspondent Andrea Kremer, who was one of the panelists and a former ESPN employee, asked ESPN president John Skipper why a women had not cracked the glass ceiling of calling NFL play-by-play.
“I think we will get there,” said Skipper. “We are committed to it. Look, we have women calling NBA games, we have women calling college football games, and we look for opportunities to put women in the booth. . . There is no reason not to do it now. It is one of things where people are making progress and that would be seen as there is no limit.”
That seemed to indicate ESPN would finally walk the walk on such talk. To its credit ESPN is the only sports network/division among those that air NFL games (CBS, Fox, NFL Network, NBC, and ESPN) showing any full-time commitment to assigning women to on-air positions for men’s sports. Doris Burke, Kara Lawson, Jessica Mendoza and Mowins are the most prominent of that group. That CBS and Fox have multiple NFL teams, and the fact that we’ve never seen a woman get any kind of shot in the booth tells you something.
There will be those who consider the Mowins assignment a stunt. They will be wrong. This is an easy prediction: She will call a quality game.
“Beth will show up and do a game and do as good a job as any of the men,” NBC Sports announcer Mike Tirico said on the SI Media Podcast last January, predicting she would get an NFL game assignment in the future. “She is a ceiling-breaker, a pioneer and there will be more women [calling the NFL] going forward.”