by Kate Arhar // @clvlndk8
Today is Women’s Day and here at Our Turf Football – a site run and staffed by women – I thought it was appropriate to celebrate some of the women that I think are making contributions in the NFL and paving the way for the next generation of women. Some of the names you should already know, but I’m willing to bet a few will surprise you.
Martha Firestone Ford – Detroit Lions After her husband’s death in 2014, Ford became sole owner of the Detroit Lions. Currently, she is the majority owner with small shares being held by her four children. She’s 93 years old, but don’t let the age fool you. She is very involved in the operation of the team as well as the hiring of coaches and player retention. She even worked directly with players during the protests last season and was able to work with them by financially supporting efforts in their communities for social change.
Martha Ford asked Lions players not to kneel, pledges financial support to players’ causes https://t.co/k29eqThtyu
— Richard Baker (@rtbcolin) March 6, 2018
Serena & Venus Williams – Miami Dolphins Not just the most amazing tennis players I’ve ever seen, they are also part owners of the Miami Dolphins. Yes it’s a small part and No they’re not making day-to-day decisions, but it’s great to see these ladies putting their money where their fandom is.
— Vernon Wes (@ProdigyofHim) December 19, 2017
Denise DeBartolo York – San Francisco 49ers In 1978, the DeBartolo Corporation purchased the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins franchise. York was named President and presided over the team through their Stanley Cup Winning season 1990-91. The next year, she sold the team to focus on the family business. In 2000, she took over running the 49ers from her brother and did so until passing the reins on to her son Jed York in 2008.
Dawn Hudson – CMO of NFL The former Pepsi executive joined the NFL in 2014 at the behest of Roger Goodell himself. Surprised by the offer, at first she turned it down and offered to help in the search. But, by the next day, she couldn’t stop thinking about the job and what an impact she could have and accepted it.
From domestic violence to DeflateGate to kneeling protests, the job has not been an easy one. I’d venture to say that the vast majority of football fans aren’t even aware that a women is running the marketing show. A huge football fan herself, with cheering ties to the Patriots, Bears and Giants, Hudson is yet another lady who has found a path to make her fandom a career.
Linda Cohn Beginning as a sports anchor for her local New York radio station, Cohn gained experience and worked her way through the ranks until she reached ESPN in 1992. Ever since, she’s been a staple on SportsCenter. In 2014 she was named as one of the 25 most influential women in sports. Her sense of humor – and love of sports – comes through in every broadcast.
Why waste a good bowl of soup? ? https://t.co/gHqfHI1tdc
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) March 2, 2018
Pam Oliver While she started out as a new reports in Albany, GA, Oliver soon moved to the sports venue in Tampa and Houston. In 1993 she joined ESPN then on to Fox Sports in 1995. She continued her work as a side-line reporter for TNT in 2005. While critics have commented on her hair styles and clothing choices, her football knowledge and reporting skills are not up for debate.
Jane McManus A writer and columnist for espnW, McManus has been a leading voice in NFL coverage. She was joined by Sarah Spain and Kate Fagan for ESPN Radio’s “The Trifecta” airing on Saturday afternoons. This amazing trio of women discussing sports was a main part of my weekend sports updating. While ESPN laid McManus off last year during a brutal few days of folks being let-go, her legacy of an all female group hosting sports talk remains.
Paige Dimakos When breaking into the traditional journalistic men’s club becomes too difficult, you use Social Media to have a platform. Dimakos has done just that with her twitter account @thesportspaige and as a host at @FanRagSports. She’s got a video/podcast that has a huge following and a social media presence that is growing each day. She’s a great example of how women will not be shut out of a male dominated industry.
In honor of #InternationalWomensDay I’m celebrating some of my favorite women in sports. ??
Tag your favorite women in sports and thank them for being awesome today (and everyday) pic.twitter.com/NT4lq8l10r
— Paige Dimakos (@The_SportsPaige) March 8, 2018
These ladies are just the tip of the iceberg. So many of us are out here… watching games, tweeting about football, blogging or writing about the game, even moving up through the ranks as coaches and referees. These days more and more men are realizing that women do love football, and we don’t actually need them to explain to us what’s going on.
And the really smart men are the ones looking to us for content, explanations and hot takes. Perhaps they realize that if women are the “iceberg,” men are the “Titanic” and they best make room for both of us in the football ocean.
Talk football with Kate on Twitter // @clvlndk8