ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Beth Mowins is touring training camps this month ahead of dry runs at a pair of exhibition games as she prepares to become the first woman in 30 years to call an NFL regular season game.
The 50-year-old former college basketball player who joined ESPN in 1994 and began calling college football for the network in 2005 will handle play-by-play duties when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Denver Broncos on Sept. 11. She’ll team with former NFL coach Rex Ryan for the late game in a season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.
The last woman to call an NFL game was NBC’s Gayle Sierens in 1987.
“I think all of us want bigger and better games and bigger and better moments and certainly the Monday Night Football franchise is one of the biggest in TV history,” Mowins said. “It’s definitely something as a kid you watch Monday Night Football and you hope maybe one day you could be there.”
To prepare, Mowins teamed up with Ryan to call the Florida State spring game. The pair will work the Buccaneers-Jaguars preseason game Aug. 17 and the Giants-Browns game four days later for practice — their calls will be taped but not broadcast. Mowins also has visited the Chargers’ and Broncos’ training camps.
Growing up in Syracuse, New York, with sports-minded parents and three brothers, Mowins realized she could combine her two greatest loves — sports and talking.
“I used to watch the NFL Today show all the time and Phyllis George was on there, and that was probably the first time I had seen a woman in that moment, on television, covering football, talking with all these players and reporting,” Mowins said. “And that was something I asked my mom if I can do and she said, ‘Yes, you can.’
“And between my mom patting me on the back and my dad giving me a little kick in the backside to make sure I was fighting for it every step of the way … I had some wonderful encouragement to get there.”
Her father was a basketball coach and she would go on to play hoops at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania before getting her Master’s degree from Syracuse University. She began her journalism career in 1991 as sports and news director at WXHC-FM radio in Homer, New York.
Mowins isn’t focusing on what her future holds as far as NFL games go. Nor is she concerned with the pioneering aspect of her assignment, she said.
“I understand the significance of it and the importance of this moment and I hope there are a lot of young girls and young boys out there who not necessarily see me as a play-by-play announcer but as a kid who had a dream and had wonderful support from family and friends to pursue that dream and put in a lot of sweat equity to get the opportunity,” Mowins said.
“And I don’t worry too much about any place in history. I’ll let other people handle that. My focus is on the day to day and while I know it’s new to everybody else, it’s not new to me. I’ve been calling Monday Night Football games for my family sitting in the living room for decades. So, hopefully I can be just as entertaining in the booth as I have been at home.”
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