1st female sportswriter enters Pro Football HOF, visits TOFN


This was an historic week at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Talk of Fame Network huddled up with the first female winner of the Dick McCann Award, which includes entry into the writers’ wing of the Hall in Canton.

Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk and formerly a long-time beat writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had a dream as a kid. Like few of us, she has been blessed to live that dream and this week was honored for having made those dreams come true.

“Since the second grade my dream was to cover the Dallas Cowboys,’’ Williams tells Talk of Fame Network. “Nothing was going to stop me from doing that.’’

That’s not to say in the early days of her career after graduating from Texas A&M plenty of people didn’t try. Thirty years ago women were not on the sidelines in anything but cheerleading gear and few press boxes had female reporters. Even fewer locker rooms allowed women reporters inside, a lesson she first learned when an early assignment was to write a post-game story on a University of Arkansas quarterback.

Told she was not allowed in the locker room, Charean was informed they would bring out both the quarterback and the coach for an interview. After 40 minutes had passed and no one ever appeared she learned to the horror of any young reporter that her subjects, like Elvis, had left the building.

Unsure what to do next, Williams recalls how a male colleague asked who she was waiting for. He then informed her there was a back exit to the locker room and both guys were gone. He was helpful enough to hand over quotes from the two parties and her job got done but those kind of experiences might have daunted someone less focused on, and determined to live, her dream.

Sports writing and pro football have thankfully both come a long way since then. One reason why is the presence of professionals like Charean Williams, a trailblazer who insists she doesn’t feel like one.

“I’ve covered 24 Super Bowls and seven Olympics,’’ Williams said. “That’s living a dream. What else was I going to do?’’

In August, Charean Williams will do one more thing. She’ll enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the first woman ever elected to the sportswriters’ wing in Canton. Here’s a tip of the helmet to that.

With most NFL teams now on summer hiatus, TOF’s Ron Borges took a look back in our weekly “State Your Case’’ segment at a safety of the 1980s who the Hall seems to have forgotten. That’s 1980 NFC Defensive Player of the Year and four-time Pro Bowl selection Nolan Cromwell.

Few athletes are as gifted as Cromwell, who set a decathlon record when someone suggested he give it a try and was converted from safety to wishbone quarterback at Kansas when an injury knocked out the starter. By the end of a season in which he rushed for over 1200 yards he was named Big-8 Player of the Year. So it should come as no surprise that Cromwell came into the NFL and was a dominant figure in the ‘80s as the Los Angeles Rams’ free safety.

After two seasons as a nickel back, he took over as a starter in 1979 and started all but five games over the next eight years. He was the measuring stick by which many coaches defined the position at the time yet he, like two other safeties on the ‘80s All-Decade team have never been given Hall of Fame consideration. Borges explains why it’s time.

Cromwell is far from the only player passed over for HOF consideration over the years. Talk of Fame’s ongoing series naming the most worthy candidate not in the Hall continues this week with a visit to San Diego, where long-time Hall of Fame voter Nick Canepa, argues that offensive guard Ed White and wide receiver Wes Chandler are two of the most deserving Bolts never to have received much Hall of Fame consideration.

Canepa also argues that Don Coryell was such an offensive innovator he too earned a place in Canton. Listen to Canepa explain why he believes that spot will remain unfulfilled however.

Our TOF co-hosts, Ron, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, also pay homage to the successful coaching career of Dennis Green, who will be inducted into the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor. They loved Dennis but listen to why these three feel they’re putting Green in on the wrong weekend and why it should have been before the Bears’ game.

Borges’ “Borges or Bogus’’ segment calls out the Cowboys for not yet inducting two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson into its Ring of Honor.  Dallas has not added to its list of 21 inductees since Darren Woodson was named in 2015. Isn’t it time for Johnson and Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones to bury the hatchet?

There’s all that as well as Rick’s recollections of the day he joined the writer’s wing of the Hall, a debate about a 6-7, 370-pound EIGHTH GRADER being offered a football scholarship by Alabama and a discussion of this year’s potential contributor candidates for Hall of Fame selection.

To hear it all go to iTunes or the TuneIn app to download the free podcast, tune in Wednesday nights to any SB Nation Radio station around the country or simply go to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com and click on the helmet icon to hear the full show or any past shows. Thanks for listening.

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3 Comments

  1. Rasputin
    June 23, 2018
    Reply

    Serious question – out of curiosity, how much access to male reporters have to female teams’ locker rooms, both now and back 30 years ago?

    • Rasputin
      June 29, 2018
      Reply

      No answer?

  2. social media
    June 24, 2018
    Reply

    Ron Borges, Is it Lesley Visser and now Charean Williams? Different award categories but same Hall?

    To Charean Williams,
    Huge CONGRATULATIONS!

    She now joins:
    “Lesley Visser was the first woman to be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the 2006 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award which recognizes long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football”

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