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The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

    Charean Williams’ notable career in sports paved the way for future female sports journalists

    (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)
    Charean Williams, award winner from the Professional Football Writers of America, and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, throws out a first pitch before a baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Arlington, Texas.

    A girl from Beaumont, Texas, a super-fan of the Dallas Cowboys, couldn’t have imagined what the future had in store for her in terms of achieving her dream of being a sports journalist. 

    Her name is Charean Williams, and her impactful career in sports journalism has made her a trailblazer for women aspiring to get involved in the sports journalism world.

    How it started

    Williams’ love for football began with watching the Dallas Cowboys play on Sundays with her grandmother, “Mam-ma.”

    “My Mam-ma was a huge Cowboys fan, so I became a fan because of her,” Williams said. “I wore Cowboys clothes all the time. I wore them to school and everyone knew I was a fan.”

    In middle school, Williams said, boys who were talking about sports would come up and ask her questions because everyone knew how much she loved the Cowboys.

    Williams had her heart set on pursuing a career in sports. She had her first appearance on the news in the second grade.

    “I asked my teacher how far it was to Dallas, and she told me it was about 300 miles away and asked me why. I told her that I was going to marry Roger Staubach, and she thought that was funny,” Williams said.

    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach has his arms folded as he walks along the sidelines during game with the Washington Redskins in Washington on Oct. 22, 1972. Staubach, who suffered a shoulder injury during the exhibition season, was activated for Sunday’s game, but didn’t play. Washington won 24-20. (AP Photo/ Charles Harrity)

     Her teacher, Cindy Bridges, told the story to Joe Cody, a former human interest-type reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise.

    The story was headlined as “Of Dallas Cowboys ‘Youngest Fan’” and was published on March 16, 1973. Williams told Cody that she not only wanted to marry Staubach, but also dreamed of covering the Cowboys.

    “My parents were much more thrilled to hear I wanted to cover the Cowboys as a future job,” Williams said.“When I was a child, my dream job was to ride on the side of the garbage trucks because it looked fun.”

    Williams said she spent time with her sister, Charla, practicing her play-by-play commentary on a metal swing in her backyard.

    She would announce big plays, especially when her then-celebrity crush Staubach threw a touchdown pass to then-Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson. Williams would also practice interviewing with Charla using a small cassette recorder.

    “I thought my career would be more focused on broadcast journalism and radio,” Williams said. “Writing just comes naturally to me and most of my career was writing.”

    Career to the Cowboys

    During her time at West Brook High School, Williams wrote her first big story about winning the state championship game in football. This was the first year the school was opened and defeated L.D. Bell High School. “To add on my senior year we had an all black school and an all white school combined, and won the state championship our first year as a school and came together as a community,” Williams said. 

    Williams went on to attend Texas A&M University and major in journalism. She worked for The Battalion, the college’s student media publication, and also worked on KAMU-TV’s evening sports show. Her second full-time job was covering high school football for the Bryan College Station Eagle.

    Eager to leave College Station after graduation, Williams took a leap of faith to achieve her goal of covering the National Football League (NFL) and applied for a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    “The Buccaneers’ job was taken, they had moved their NASCAR writer to that job. So it was actually a NASCAR job, and I was like well, to be honest, I know nothing about NASCAR, but I’m interested,” Williams said.

    She held the NASCAR job for about eight months until the Buccaneers position opened up, and then moved to that position. It was the first job where Williams didn’t have a reference, so Tampa Bay took a chance on Williams and allowed her to start achieving her dream of being a journalist in the NFL. 

    Williams made her return to Texas in 1999, where she took on an NFL at-large reporting job with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and eventually went on to cover just the Dallas Cowboys. Williams had come full-circle with her childhood dreams.

    Her prominence covering the Cowboys catapulted her to becoming a catalyst for all women in sports.

    Being a female in sports is no easy feat, especially during the 1990s and early 2000s when there wasn’t a heavy emphasis on welcoming women in sports. 

    “You stood out as a woman in sports,” Williams said, “The first time I realized that was one of my first years covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I was never the first one in the locker room after games because you want the players to know you’re coming in.”

    Early on in Williams’ career, she recalled an instance where she experienced difficulty covering the University of Arkansas versus Texas A&M Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship game for the Bryan-College Station Eagle. She was assigned to write a piece about former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey, and because of issues with women being allowed in locker rooms, she was informed to wait outside and Grovey will meet her. Kurt Bowles, a reporter with the Austin-American Statesman, met Williams outside and told her that Grovey had left through a back exit in the locker room. “I don’t know whether I wanted to throw up or cry, probably a little bit of both as a young reporter,” Williams said.

    Life as a fan

    When Williams isn’t working, she enjoys attending sporting events as a passionate fan and matches the energy of loud and proud crowd. Debbie Darrah, former Texas A&M assistant director of media relations and friend of Williams,x have been to many sporting events together, including a Super Bowl. Darrah said that “if you’re sitting in the stadium live, where everybody else is yelling and screaming, and you know, Charean just yells louder.” Williams could practically be on the sidelines coaching at football games, Darrah recalled, because she always predicts the plays before they happen and critique what is happening on the field.

    Awards and accomplishments

    The respect for women in sports doesn’t come naturally; it’s earned through hard work, professionalism and dedication, which is how colleagues and friends of Williams describe her and how she overcame obstacles to become a prominent figure in sports journalism.

    She got the nickname “Mother Football” from Clarence Hill, a colleague and friend at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

    Kristi Scales, a sideline reporter for the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network and good friend of Williams, said “Charean is known by us in the Dallas media as “Mother Football,” because she’d been around for so long and knows so much about the game or the team. And so if anybody had a question, they would always go to her.” 

    Working in the sports journalism industry has given Williams many opportunities she wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for her job. During her 30 year career, Williams attended four summer Olympics, three winter Olympics and has attended 28 NFL Super Bowls.

    If there was one word to describe Williams, it would be “professional,” according to John McClain, a NFL sports radio and podcast host and friend of Williams. “[Williams] is the epitome of professionalism in everything she does. Whether she is working in her house or covering a game, she makes sure everything is done in a first-class manner and is respectful to the people she covers.”

    Charean Williams after winning the Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020. ((Photo/Charean Williams))

    Williams’ career is attributed to her “first class” level of journalism, and her contributions have not gone unnoticed, being the first woman to win a plethora of awards and honors. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and was the first woman to be on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Also in 2018, Williams was the 50th winner of the Dick McCann Award from the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) and was the first woman to win this award. 

    In 2020, Williams received the Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni award, which is the highest honor a graduate from the university can receive. Jerry Jones, current owner, general manager, and president of the Dallas Cowboys, wrote Williams a letter of recommendation for this honor in a quick 24-hour turnaround.

    “It probably didn’t hurt to have one of the most powerful people in sports write a letter on her behalf,” Scales said, which demonstrates how respected Williams is in the world of sports journalism. 

    “I’ve watched her rise and have one of the biggest impacts on women in sports journalism as anybody in our business,” said McClain, “She is the best example of what you can achieve.” 

    After a 25+ year long career, Williams is continuing to do what she loves as she currently works for NBC Sports and participates on Pro Football Talk Live, NBC’s TV show on Peacock.

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