Trailblazing Sportscaster Jeannie Morris, First Woman to Report Live from a Super Bowl, Dies at 85
Jeannie Morris, a longtime sportscaster who broke barriers for women in sports journalism during the 1970s and 1980s, died on Monday. She was 85.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Morris died of appendiceal cancer, which she was receiving treatment for the past year. She died at her home in Chicago while surrounded by friends, her four adult children, and her ex-husband, retired Chicago Bears player Johnny Morris.
"My mom had a stack of accomplishments," her daughter, Holly, told the outlet. "She woke up every morning curious, grateful and spring-loaded to say, 'Yes.' That inspires me the most. The levity and bravery she brought to the last weeks of her life was a master class in dignity."
Morris' career began with her Chicago's American column, "Football Is a Woman's Game," which she wrote under the name "Mrs. Johnny Morris," according to USA Today.
For the next 24 years, Morris worked as a reporter, producer, and host for Chicago-based sports stations WMAQ-TV and WBBM-TV in Chicago.
In 1975, she became the first woman to report live from Super Bowl IX in Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Throughout her career, Morris was seen as a pioneer for women in sports journalism. During her time covering the Chicago Bears, women and children were not allowed inside the press box. Instead, Morris sat on the roof of the press box at one game during a blizzard.
Morris won 11 Emmys during her career, according to NBC Chicago. In 2014, she became the first woman to receive the Ring Lardner Award for excellence in sports journalism.
She was also the author of books Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, Adventures in the Blue Beast, and Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun’s Historic Senate Campaign, according to USA Today.
Morris married Johnny, 85, in 1960 after meeting in college at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her ex played running back and wide receiver for the Bears from 1958 to 1996.
The couple divorced in 1985 but remained friendly.
Morris is survived by her four children — Dan, Debbie, Holly and Tim — and seven grandchildren.