Is it really surprising that a member of the very sex that burns the toast can announce a hockey score as "Detroit 2, Red Wings 0"? Is it truly unbelievable that a delegate from the same gender that gets hysterical over Lucille Ball can report a result from the golf tour as "Johnny Miller fired a 68 today to take a two-point lead"? Is it so incredibly astonishing that a woman, the same type person who can't think, can't talk, spends all the money and ruins all the marriages, should be expected to do anything but destroy our beloved college football scoreboard by reading the losers' scores first and by pronouncing the revered Fighting Mini as "Mi-noise" and the hallowed sooey pig Razorbacks as "Arkan-saws"?
No. Not at all. In fact, women have done all of those things right out there on the airwaves of America. And, in the process, have made themselves look just about as inept, just about as often, as men.
Women have long since stormed the redoubts of masculine society, chasing scofflaws, fighting fires, collecting garbage, repairing cars, photographing rock stars, publishing newspapers, driving trucks, owning ad agencies and tearing apart the foundation of the Little League. The Watergate Five felt the wrath of a woman from the prosecution side. The people of Connecticut elected one to their statehouse. More recently Pope Paul VI approved the appointment of one to a spot in the Vatican. But no aspect of this onslaught has encountered more vehement reactions than women in sportscasting.
In the land of television, the word' 'talent" operates as a third-person pronoun. On-the-air people, terrific personalities and generous humanitarians all, are "talent." The "talent" went out to lunch, for instance. Or, the "talent" passed out in the bathroom. The current show-biz story has it that unless one is black, Chicano, Lithuanian or a member of some other disadvantaged minority, one does not stand the least chance of becoming "talent" on television. Unless one is of the female persuasion, of course. Then it's a lock.
Recognizing a sucker opening when they see one, women have advanced on television sports as if it were Supermarket Sweep. They have come to it from kitchens, utility rooms and tennis courts; from swimming pools, modeling agencies and Broadway choruses; from Miss America pageants, ski runs and soap operas. They have been harassed by directors, blindfolded in locker rooms and sabotaged by anchormen. One has been honored by having her picture stamped on milk cartons, while another has been endangered by spectators heaving beer bottles in her direction.
All, as Gloria Steinem might have pointed out before she disappeared to streak her hair, have paid their dues. Yet they are continually bad-mouthed, subjected to chauvinistic ridicule and sexist innuendo. Their lot isn't helped by bosses such as the TV producer in Minneapolis who hired a woman and renamed her Bronco." He went on record as declaring he figured it would be neat "to have a dumb-looking blonde make football predictions." Neat, indeed. The dumb blonde was correct on 75% of her pro and 78% of her Big Ten predictions last fall.
At least womencasters are being noticed. Art Buchwald wrote that he was taken completely by surprise when he heard this strange high voice commenting on a TV football game. He said he thought Pat Summerall had had a serious operation. "How could a multibillion-dollar network invade the homes of 30 million beer-drinking, potato chip-eating, red-blooded American football fans with the voice of a girl?" Buchwald wrote. "...she has no more business on TV football games than Howard Co-sell has on The Waltons"
Even David Halberstam, he of the Vietnam chronicles and the Pulitzer Prize, took a few moments off from mundane matters to address the more weighty subject of television sports gimmickry. "CBS has just come up with a woman sportscaster," wrote Halberstam in New York magazine. "CBS has just hired a woman who does interviews so genuinely awful that her work rivals—they said it couldn't be done—the work of Tony Kubek."
And that is close to the point. In a recent cross-country survey of women sportscasters, whose number seems to be increasing faster than one can switch the channel selector to find them, it was established that even if the women are not the greatest thing to hit the tube since the washed-up country quarterback, they are odds-on favorites over Peter Puck and Sonny Hill.
Though hardly a thorough profile of all female commentators—those working in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Baltimore and San Diego are prominent absentees—this study was made with an open mind and no malice aforethought. It was designed to investigate the species, their careers, travails, hopes, dreams and earned run averages. Furthermore, it is presented with the firm reminder that as shaky as the women have been to this point, they are probably no worse than most of the mencasters who besmirch the English language and act a whole lot dumb.
During this study, in fact, came the spectacle of CBS's new pro basketball commentator, Oscar Robertson, the Big O himself, nervously engaged in an interview with Bill Walton in the Portland Trail Blazers' dressing room. Armed with three questions that he seemed determined to ask come fire or flood, Robertson bore in on his subject. The season was two weeks old. Portland was already three games behind Los Angeles. There were only 75 or 750 or 750,000 games left in the sensational Pacific Division race. And Robertson actually said, "O.K., just one more question, Big Bill, and we'll let you hit the shower: Can you still catch the Lakers?"
If a woman had uttered that remark, a stake would have been planted in medialand and the network would have had another Joan of Arc on its hands. As it happened, the Big O got clean away with one of the most incredibly stupid questions in the history of television. So much for equal justice before the law.
KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS
"Someday," says Jane Chastain, "I'll remember how to answer these women who ask, 'Why aren't you home with your husband and taking care of the kids?' I'll say, 'Why are you so cruel? My husband has just been locked up in an insane asylum, and I'm sure you've read that I'm sterile.' "
Such humor must have served Chastain well over the long weeks of her struggle to catch on as the first lady of TV sports. When CBS hired Chastain, she had already done 12 years of television sportscasting in Atlanta, Raleigh and Miami. Her first assignment with the network was as an analyst at a women's bowling tournament. Before the telecast, she spent most of three days at the lanes, talking to bowlers and learning the nuances of the game. Next, she worked on a football broadcast from Chicago, during which she primarily read scores, then did another game in Denver, where the roof fell in. The network's switchboard lighted up with over 1,000 calls of outrage. Derogatory letters poured in. Chastain was stunned.
"It's impossible not to make a few mistakes in a 2½-hour game," she says.' 'But I prepared and did a credible job. I mentioned that it was the first time all year Denver had scored in the second period; that Jim Turner, the Bronco kicker, also played quarterback at Utah State for Denver Coach John Ralston the year the Aggies met current Bronco Quarterback Charley Johnson's New Mexico State team in the Sun Bowl. Trivia items like that.
"My thing isn't color and trivia, or talking to wives and cheerleaders. I am better doing serious analysis. That takes getting used to, but what CBS has done is shove me down people's throats without warning. The fans in Miami know that I can do football. The fans in New Orleans had seen me for two straight weeks doing the Chicago and Denver games, and there were hardly any complaints from those places. It takes time to gain credibility before people will stop hating me."
If Chastain's manner seems too austere—on occasion her tendency is to look and act as if she were doing the sideline color in Vietnam—it may be a result of her background as a straight reporter. Since her inauspicious beginnings, she has become looser and more under-whelmed. Her artful interview with Bill Walton was the first to reveal his rift with the Portland management over the administration of medical drugs, and her sideline work at the Sun and Cotton bowls was commendable.
Chastain, 32, was born Jane Steppe (her husband, Roger Chastain, is an automobile-parts designer and amateur road racer), the daughter of a mortician who moved from Tennessee to the backwoods of Georgia when Jane was an infant. She had buck teeth and a thick drawl. She remembers sleeping close to the embalming room in her house and keeping the family's dog quiet while mourners wailed down the hall. It is a tale almost identical to the one constantly related by Ann-Margret about her youth, and equally ghoulish.
The Steppes moved to Atlanta because it was the nearest place where they could purchase braces for their daughter's teeth. And they sent her to a modeling school and dancing classes to overcome her awkwardness.
Mr. Steppe was a sports addict who, Jane says, "only recently forgave me for being a girl." The old man must have been proud when his daughter, just two years out of high school, became "Coach Friday," a glamorous character who predicted football results for an Atlanta television station and occasionally was rewarded with a pie in the face when her prognostications were wrong. Since then Chastain has been in syndication with 195 different short segments explaining sports. She established a solid reputation throughout Florida.
"Tokenism?" she says. "I can't accept that. I've been doing this too long. I have too much confidence in my ability to believe some 'movement' helped get me hired. 'Attractive' is not an antonym for 'intelligent.' Joe DiMaggio once looked at me and said, 'You do know what you're talking about.' Right then the interview stopped being a bore. I'm the first to ask why the touchdown pass was dropped or why somebody didn't play the shooter up tight. My whole life has been hard news, but on the network I've been through more wife interviews already than I had been in the last 12 years. I just want to go back to being a reporter and get into the meat stories. I didn't go with CBS to be a celebrity."
The Chastains live near Fort Lauderdale with a pet squirrel. Recently they decided to give up a couple of their favorite restaurants because too many autograph seekers were interrupting them. That is a far cry from the climate prevailing when she arrived in Miami six years ago and was met with open hostility and a cameraman whose career seemed bent on having her fired. Bad camera angles, screaming scenes and general uncooperation followed. Chastain says that for a year she cried every day during the hour's drive home from work before the atmosphere finally cleared and she was accepted.
Vestiges of animosity still remain at the network level. During a late-season regional telecast of a Houston-Dallas football game, Chastain was busy doing sideline interviews when the only touchdown of the contest was scored by the Cowboys' Doug Dennison. Left unprotected by the director who did not relay any information to her, Chastain asked along the Dallas bench and was told that Robert Newhouse had run in for the six points. During her minute-long live feed into the national game of the week, Chastain reported this misinformation and, in addition, was so flustered she called the Houston team the Astros instead of the Oilers.
It was a moment she had diligently prepared for all week, and it was botched. What Chastain did not know was that a member of the CBS staff called down from the press box to the network's truck to inform the crew about her error. The director picked up the phone and said, "We know it. That's all right. She doesn't know what she's talking about anyway."
That incident provoked Chastain into demanding better communication and longer advance notice of her assignments. She says things have been improved ever since. At the same time, she was promised chances to work as a lead announcer, a position she already has filled at the American Professional Surfing Championships. Chastain will be seen in similar roles at other events before and after the birth of her first child, who is due in July. The extent of her success after only seven months at CBS probably is best indicated by the network's hiring of two other women sportscasters.
SPLENDOR BEHIND THE GLASS
At the U.S. Open golf tournament two years ago, Lee Arthur, then of KDKA, Pittsburgh, showed up at the Oakmont Country Club clad in a skimp of a tank top and a short, short skirt. Since she was doing live interviews, the folks at home got a load of Arthur almost as soon as the gasping crowds at Oakmont did. Immediately, station officials received so many calls of protest that Arthur's cameraman was ordered to avoid her bare middle and shoot the rest of the interviews from the neck up. "I'm the only woman in history to be sunk by her own navel," Arthur said. It was a typically glib and gleeful reaction from sportscasting's own ingenue.
Arthur says she is not the prettiest sportscaster in the country—"Frank Gifford is"—and she says it is difficult to get her best side on camera "because I'm sitting on it." She says the photograph of her and Jim Brown that she has in her apartment 16 floors above the Golden Triangle in downtown Pittsburgh was taken "just before Jimmy threw me out the window."
Arthur says to make it as a woman sportscaster a girl must have "all-day make-up, a credential and a strong bladder. Jimmy the Greek had it 50 to 1 against me making it. Then he saw me at the Evel Knievel jump and changed the odds to 5 to 1. I forget what I had on."
Arthur is not as frivolous as she seems. Athletes seeking her companionship are said to meet stiff resistance. "Listen," she says, "they're on enough of an ego trip as it is. What I need is someone to put me on an ego trip.
"Athletes are physical types." Arthur points out. "Not wearing a bra seems to make somebody interesting to them. But I won't date them. I avoid parties. Guys have opened up about their personal lives to me in interviews, and I know too much. I protect people. I'm no Rona Barrett.
"I'm sure some guys do their locker-room number on me, but as long as I never date them, their scripture and verse will be inaccurate."
There have been times when it has been a struggle for Arthur to understand the complexities of sports, but objective observers—even non-sexist ones—agree that she is the announcer any director would be most likely to choose if Muhammad Ali had a rematch with George Foreman on a desert island off Borneo. That is a terribly chauvinistic thought, but true, nonetheless.
When Arthur originally entered TV in New York, a newspaper reviewer called her scoreboard show "consistently suspenseful." As Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh got ready for his team's home opener against Montreal last year, Arthur's first question was, "Danny, do you plan anything different for the Expos?" And Bill Currie, the KDKA sports director and the former "Mouth of the South" who wields an acerbic tongue, once called Arthur, "a functional illiterate." Now he credits her with "the guts of a mountain lion. Lee is rah-rah and never got over being a fan, but she probably knows more sports than I do. I'm wrong more than I am right, and careless, too. But they don't get on me, just her."
Another man deep into the Pittsburgh sports scene is less complimentary. "The greatest handicap in the world is being dumb—unless you are beautiful," he says. But then the same observer compromises his objectivity somewhat when he offers the belief that "A girl is really not qualified to report sports unless she grew up as a lesbian playing for the Chicago Cardinals."
Arthur grew up as the daughter of an Air Force colonel and attended two colleges before getting an English degree from Butler. She went through two unsuccessful marriages—her two sons often visit her in Pittsburgh—before making the jump into show business with roles in summer-stock productions of Carousel and Kiss Me Kate. Later in New York she ran the gamut of the daytime soap operas, Secret Storm included, and danced and sang in the chorus of the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. Subsequently she went through "a super hanging-around period" before making a leap into sports after a trip to the Mexico City Olympics.
Arthur's theatrical background has provided her with unique insights into sports. She once interviewed a Steeler on how he put on his helmet "without squishing his Afro." She became increasingly concerned about "the youthful hurts" athletes at the University of Pittsburgh suffer. She makes the interesting observation that a golf ball never seems to be hit. "They drive it, hook it, slice it, loop it, fade it, shank it and putt it," she says, "but when do they ever hit it?"
Above all, Arthur has a recurring fantasy that someday she will sing the national anthem at a spectacular event. She recently quit KDKA with a year remaining on her three-year contract in order to strike out as a free-lancer in pursuit of the countrywide attention that she craves. Pittsburghers would have been satisfied if she just had stopped pronouncing nearby Juniata College as "Waneeta." If Arthur could get a few things like that straightened out, then she'd be sure to hit it.
THE MARTINI CONGOLOMERATE
"Augie Donatelli is an ancient umpire who has forgotten more baseball than I'll ever see."
"Gaylord Perry is so greasy, the mound should be altered with grappling hooks to hold him down."
"I was extremely upset to see the cutesy-poo tactics Henry Aaron used at the plate, stepping out of the box, calling time-out and looking bored by it all."
These are only a few pronouncements on the grand old pastime from the pages of Fun In Houston magazine, a monthly entertainment periodical published in Houston that is co-owned by a brown-haired, lollipop-cheeked conglomerate by the name of Anita Martini. No kidding.
Martini, a baseball expert, offered those opinions in her regular column. Her partner, Nelda Pena, a basketball expert, is more subtle. She once mentioned in her column that Cliff Meely of the Houston Rockets hadn't learned team play. "Cliff hasn't shown me much," wrote Pena, "beyond suiting out for three years."
In addition to Fun, Martini and Pena run a public relations business, Creative Concepts, that has handled the promotion of everything from energy-crisis seminars to motorcycle races to the opening of the Adam's Apple restaurant. In the past year Martini has been the major-domo in the promotion of four Southwestern Athletic Conference football games. She has appeared regularly on Sports Feedback, a phone-in program on KPRC radio. She has done film reports as well as three half-hour sports specials, one of them entitled Martini Time, on KPRC-TV. A fourth special on baseball is in the works. She has pioneered the use of live-camera remote interviews during hockey and basketball games. She served as color commentator on the Houston-Tulsa college football game. And she does live radio spots nightly from Houston for a New England station, and will be a regular on the Astros' radio and television pre-game shows this season.
"I make mistakes," she says. "My voice is awful. I ask long, convoluted questions in interviews. I can't make any money and I despair of going anywhere. All I know is, if the networks or somebody give me a chance, I can handle it. I've got it up here." She points to her temple. "I can think."
When Leo Durocher managed the Astros, he was fond of saying, "I'd lead off with Anita if I thought it would win games."
Baseball has been in Martini's blood since she was a tyke in Galveston, an asthma-ridden girl who read voraciously and listened to the Yankees on the radio during her shut-in periods. Her affluent family owned the old Martini Theatre, and Anita got to meet Sophie Tucker, Chill (the Voice of Francis the Talking Mule) Wills and that gang. On her 12th birthday her father presented her with a trip to anywhere she wished. Martini chose Yankee Stadium.
After graduation from Stephens College, Martini worked as a window dresser, secretary and sportswear buyer. She married a European, moved to Houston and got divorced. In 1967 she joined Fun magazine as an editorial assistant. Four years later she owned it.
According to KPRC President Jack Harris, a bruised ego and the insecurity of the station's sports director made Martini just another face on the cutting room floor until an edict came down from above to include shots of her in all her interviews. Now Harris says he is grooming Martini for bigger things.
Martini is not optimistic. At age 36, she has been waiting a long time. "What burns me is the networks are looking for women to accomplish something their men haven't done yet," she says. "I'm not capable of doing a perfect game, but neither is any man.
"On the network telecast of an Oilers' game this fall, the only thing the announcers mentioned about David Beverly, the punter, was that he once played at Buffalo. Beverly was one of the reasons for Houston's turnaround this season. Dan Pastorini couldn't punt because of a pulled hamstring, and he needed to be rested anyway. The Oilers picked up Beverly as a free agent during the off-season. He came through beautifully. These big-time network honchos didn't know what was going on.
"I read those letters criticizing Chastain for her remark, 'There is no defense against a perfectly thrown pass,' " says Martini. "How many of these jerk men announcers have said stuff worse than that. Is ineptitude tolerated only in men?"
Anita Martini is positively unwavering in search of her goal. "I want to do the color on Monday night baseball," she says. "If they have the guts to hire me, I'll be great."
LIFE IN THE HUSHES
The most ribald sports controversy in years hit the Albany-Schenectady area last July when some members of a boys' championship baseball team were discovered celebrating their pennant victory by drinking cold duck in the dugout. A grandmother of one of the players accused the league of standing by while the youth of the region sank into degradation. On closer inspection, nobody could find that any of Albany-Schenectady's baseball champions did anything worse than get sick.
Elizabeth (Liz) Bishop wasn't on that story. But she was right there last October when Maple Hill High Football Coach Joe McCabe pulled his team from the field with six minutes remaining, in protest against Tamarac High's rough "cheap shots." Bishop not only interviewed McCabe for WRGB-TV, Schenectady, she was the first reporter to speak with the head of the league's officials and get his reaction.
Bishop is 22, a Venus in blue jeans, as Frankie Avalon used to say. Already she is a sports columnist for the Albany Times Union as well as WRGB's weekend sports announcer. Tom Cunningham, her editor, says that when Liz answered his help-wanted ad in the fall of 1973 she "lit up the entire room." Within six months she was writing the column, and a few months later was well enough known that the paper dropped her last name from the logo. Now it is simply Look to Liz.
Don Decker, her TV news director, also is enamored of his protégée. "I am aware people say Liz is on the air only because she's a knockout," says Decker, "but when she speaks at civic clubs, men have concluded she's legit."
Bishop laughs at the recollection of the time Decker was quoted as saying that no matter how pretty she was, she'd better get the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey score right. "If there's anything I'm sure of," she says, "it's the RPI hockey score."
But her assignments aren't only minor league. She has interviewed O.J. Simpson, B.J. King, Larry Brown and Red Auerbach, who took a look at her stacked heels and exclaimed, "What are you doing on stilts?" When Curt Gowdy met Bishop at a local speaking engagement, he said, "If this is what the new wave of announcers looks like, get out the white flag." That Curt, he sure is a smoothie.
In fact, Bishop is not sure which talent she should exploit. A junior at Albany State University, she affects a pleasant whimsy in her written work that enables her to refer to Tom Dempsey's record 63-yard field goal as "winning the game single-footedly"; to San Diego Padres Owner Ray Kroc, the McDonald's hamburger king, as "McSilly"; and to his public chastisement of his team as a "McStake." She also took former Providence College basketball star Marvin Barnes to task for his statement that he preferred working in a factory to signing a pro contract for less than a million dollars. "It might be fun to observe Marvin slaving in an assembly line," she wrote. "One hopes he could get some overtime."
"Half the fun of covering sports is being irreverent," she says. "In the column, I can let loose and nail people, really let them have it. I don't know, though, if Albany TV is ready for opinion or funny commentary."
On the air Bishop once failed to pronounce the "r" in the second word of "Grand Prix," and she referred to Forest Hills as "Forest Lawn" because she was preoccupied with "lawn" tennis. Such faux pas only have made it harder for Bishop to hide from her public, even when she puts on old jeans and a flannel shirt for a trip to the grocery. "That's always the time someone will recognize me and say, 'Aren't you Liz?' " she says. "I say 'No.' I've denied I was me to a lot of people."
One day Bishop was at lunch with WRGB's weather girl when a sophisticated patron approached and congratulated the weather girl on her show. "Oh, I know you, too," the stranger said, looking toward Liz. "You're the football."
"I often wonder if men think I'm equipped to deal with anything but sports," Liz says. "I can't cook or sew except in a pinch, and I'd just as soon not be pinched. But I read a lot. My namesake, Elizabeth Bishop, the poetess, wrote The Roosters about birds who crowed at the Crucifixion. It's really symbolic, deep, heavy."
What bothers Bishop most about TV sports are program notes. "On ABC football Cosell must have mentioned Roone Arledge presents Frank Sinatra eight times a minute," she says. "Also, I get tired of Gowdy telling Kubek he should be sure and watch the NBC movie that week. I hope these are my future employers, but I wish they would discover me soon."
Bishop lives at home with her parents and two brothers. She says, "Do you know what size market this is? It's 42nd out of 158 listed. You got to get me out of here. I've been to Montreal and to Boston a couple of times, but let's face it, I've led a sheltered life. That's going to change. You can bet this isn't my last stop."
Anybody would be McSilly to take that bet.
The letter read: "Dear Miss Morris, I really enjoy you, but I can't say the same for your brother. If you care to get together some night I could pick up a six-pack and meet you somewhere. Any Tuesday night would be fine as my wife has Bingo that night. Also on Wednesday, she goes to her mother's and every other Friday she teaches weight lifting. Sincerely...."
For Jeannie Morris, wife of the former Chicago Bear wide receiver, Johnny; mother of four children aged 9 to 18; author of Brian Piccolo: A Short Season: newspaper columnist: onetime harsh critic and respected adversary of the Bears and Papa Bear George Halas himself: sports announcer for WMAQ, Chicago; and a recent returnee from a yearlong sabbatical traveling with her family in a camper throughout Europe, it is her favorite letter. She says it is a good example of the "semi-mash" notes one in her position gets. It is typical of the mentality in Gary, Ind., from which it came, she adds.
Morris was riding in a black limousine to Tulane Stadium in New Orleans on a dismal, rainy Super Bowl Sunday. Having awakened at 5 a.m. to a clap of thunder, taken breakfast in bed while her husband slept and stumbled downstairs to meet the other passengers, Morris was on her way to her first live appearance on national television.
She is a transplanted Californian who grew up listening to football games on the car radio out in the driveway. In college she dated "eggheads" while her husband went around, she says, "chasing skirts." This is the second marriage for both, and they surely must be the only husband-wife sports-announcing combination in the land. Johnny already had concluded his Super Bowl chores for WMAQ and NBC, but Jeannie was in the thick of hers. She had been chosen by the network to assist in its coverage of the big game. "I'm starting out too curly," she said, touching up her hair. "I'm going to end up too straight."
At 10 a.m. Morris watched a tape of the pregame show on which she had interviewed Steeler Owner Art Rooney. It is a cynic's fervent plea that an enemy of Rooney be found forthwith, but, as Morris observed, "He is one of the grand people." In the interview Rooney said, "When you lose, you're dumb. I'm the only really dumb owner left in the league." On the same program Jack Perkins of NBC news in Los Angeles decided football was "a business"; Joe Na-math dwelt on "the enormity of it all"; and Don Meredith called Steeler Coach Chuck Noll "Chuck Knox." Morris got to ask three questions.
Waiting in the interview room hard by the Steelers' dressing quarters a few minutes later, Morris sewed a belt loop on her raincoat. "You'll have to leave, ma'am," a guy in an orange hat said, "the players are arriving," Morris said she was supposed to stay. "O.K.," said orange hat, "but don't peek through these doors."
"Tell the Steelers not to peek over here, either," Morris said. "There are women in here."
Shortly thereafter Morris was fitted with an earphones-antenna apparatus she would need for her postgame appearance. She was to interview the crowd outside the players' locker rooms, an area that even before the game was surging with inebriated humanity. "Is this going national?" one man screamed at the NBC personnel. "What the hell is this? Answer me."
As she walked through the crowd, Morris muttered under her breath something about danger. "Maybe if I get knocked down, I'll finally make John Chancellor," she said.
In the NBC clients' section of the press box there were no clients. It was too cold. Only Morris, her husband, Perkins, a stadium policeman and a couple of freeloaders hung on as the wind roared, the temperature dipped and the Super Bowl wound down. Perkins, who was to join her on the postgame show, had long since left for shelter when Morris exited the press box with six minutes left in the game. The press elevator was being held for Commissioner Pete Rozelle, so Morris rushed down the ramps and made a broken field run through the masses in the tunnels, breathlessly hoping to reach her post in time.
By the time she arrived at the gates, both teams had run by to their lockers. Rain was falling once more. The noise was deafening, with the unmistakable sound of maniacs heavy in the air. "Interview me, interview me," a man wearing four overcoats demanded. In the distance the hoarse voice of a drunk could be heard shouting for at least 30 minutes, "Fire DeRogatis! Fire DeRogatis!" And just about everybody was screaming for the Steelers.
Morris chose to talk to a man who had won the Minnesota Viking mascot's horns on a bet, but he didn't say much other than he had won the Minnesota Viking mascot's horns on a bet. By this time Perkins had lost power in his microphone and had carried off one dialogue with Morris using her mike. Then he sauntered around in a pique, probably wondering how he could make the first flight back to the Coast.
Meanwhile Morris, confused by the chaos of directions pouring through her earphones, found two girls, and they came on screeching that L.C. Greenwood was "No. 1." Two Steeler wives persuaded the police to let them over the barricades. Then they kissed the police in appreciation. Morris gravitated toward the wives, but the postgame show was approaching a climax. Johnny Morris lingered on the edge of the shoving throngs, looking for all the world like a man who considered himself fortunate that his wife had not been trampled to death.
It was nearly all over when Jeannie Morris started to walk away and go inside. A man with a camera bellowed, "Hey, Chastain, baby. Turn around. Give me a smile." The Super Bowl's first woman-announcer turned around and laughed in her own sweet way. "Jane should know she's come a long way since Coach Friday," said Jeannie Morris.
And so have they all.
While Jeannie Morris (center) gleefully grips a mike, 'caster-columnist-coed Liz Bishop (top) takes notes on Albany State football, Anita Martini (above) pumps Oiler Tommy Maxwell and CBS's Jane Chastain quizzes the Giants' Pete At has.
Pittsburgh's Lee Arthur has left the KDKA spurts desk to strike out on her own.
Football wife Morris has tangled with Bears and helped to cover Super Bowl IX.