Beth Mowins Making History as Play-By-Play Announcer for Monday Night Football
When the Chargers and Broncos tee-it-up for the second game of the Monday Night Football double-header to wrap up NFL Kickoff Weekend, Beth Mowins will be calling the action for ESPN. She is only the second woman to call play-by-play of a NFL game on network television and the first in 30 years since Gayle Sirens called a Seahawks-Chiefs game on NBC in 1987.
Beth will be working the broadcast booth with former Jets and Bills head coach Rex Ryan who will serve as analyst. Rex’s twin brother, Rob, is a former defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
One of her biggest supporters will be Brad Sham, the play-by-play “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys”, who is in his 39th season on Cowboys Radio.
“I had the pleasure of working with Beth Mowins twice,” says Sham. “She was doing play-by-play of the Women’s Final Four for Westwood One national radio in 2004 and 2005 and I was the on-site studio host. Beth did women’s basketball all year, but she wasn’t doing national play-by-play because she was familiar with it. She was doing it because she’s good. Her preparation, research, and poise are all the things a network broadcaster needs. She’s done football before because she knows the sport. She’s ready for her role in the NFL this year because she’s earned it.
“There is no gender in the booth. There’s prepared or not, good enough or not. Beth is prepared and more than good enough. I’m proud to have worked with her.”
Beth visited our Cowboys Radio booth prior to the Raiders-Cowboys game last month during preseason because she was doing play-by-play for the local Raiders’ television preseason broadcasts.
ESPN’s decision to put Beth in the booth is not a publicity stunt. Nor is it a one-time shot for one network with NFL broadcasting rights. In late September, she will be the first female play-by-play broadcaster for NFL games on CBS when she works the Browns-Colts game alongside kicker-turned-analyst Jay Feely.
In 1995 she became only the second woman to do the play-by-play of a college football game on a national TV network (ESPN). She started her ESPN career a year earlier calling softball games, and now works men’s and women’s college basketball games for the network. She’s also called women’s World Cup soccer games.
Beth is a former basketball player at Lafayette College. She grew up in her hometown of Syracuse, New York with a love of sports. Her father coached basketball at a local high school. She played basketball as well as soccer. She also had three brothers who played sports. Her first “announcing” gig was working as the public address announcer for the high school…she did so when she was still a student in middle school!
Now 50 years old, Beth did not have many female role models in sports broadcasting when she grew up.
“Well, there was Phyllis George on CBS’ NFL Today studio show,” she told Barry Horn of The Dallas Morning News. “I loved Pat Summerall for NFL, Jim Nantz for college basketball, Keith Jackson for college football. I was a big Yankee fan growing up. My favorite broadcasters were Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and Frank Messer.”
Beth understands that she is now a role model for young, aspiring female sports journalists and broadcasters.
“In the last six months I have come to realize it may be a big deal to the women in the audience,” she told Horn of her Monday Night Football debut. “I think 45 percent of people who watch NFL games are women. I’m excited to call the game, but I will approach it like any other assignment.”
As for the original trailblazer, Gayle Sirens, Beth first met her while working a women’s college volleyball tournament several years ago.
“(Gayle’s) daughter was a very good volleyball player at Penn State and I called the NCAA volleyball championship,” Beth told the Associated Press.
Did Gayle reach out to her to give any advice about the upcoming broadcast?
“Gayle told me to be myself, be prepared, and have fun,” recalled Beth.
As for making history herself this Monday night on ESPN, Beth tries to downplay the significance.
“I don’t worry too much about any place in history, I’ll let other people handle that” she says. “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.”