For those of us watching sports in the late 1970's, Jayne Kennedy, a former beauty pageant title-holder, made viewing the football pregame show NFL Today a blast. She was young, smart, articulate, fine as heck and could talk football with the best of men.
Her story of rising to the top as a female African-American broadcast host and celebrity actress before being brought down by a leaked sex tape, an unthinkable and unforgivable celebrity sin at the time, is a story full of many firsts in sports and broadcast tv.
I came across an article, Revisiting the first celeb sex tape, that gives Jayne's story and does it in a way that makes one wonder if she was just too smart, sexy and ethnic for CBS in that era. They could probably handle her being one, but smart, sexy and ethnic all together might of threatened perceptions. All her co-hosts were ugly, older males.
She wasn't the first pretty female broadcaster on the sports show; she'd replaced former Miss America beauty Phyllis George. Phyllis was one of the first females to have a prominent role in national sports coverage. She was pretty and smart, but Jayne just had that charm and sex appeal which put her in a league of her own.
Fans of football and television were easy to forgive Jayne, seeing it really as her doing nothing wrong. No scandal could smear her beauty in our eyes. Might've even added to her appeal. But network television and the NFL weren't so liberal and forgiving and her career in sports and television fizzled afterward.
In 1988 a former co-host of The NFL Show, Jimmy 'the Greek' Snyder, would also see his career ended by an over-sensitive NFL Today as he made a racial remark on-air that was not intended to offend.
But the Greek was nothing pretty to look at. Sports television could afford to lose his services. But Jayne was the heart throb to young and old men across the nation. She was the beauty that somehow effortlessly tamed the beast in football men. She was beauty and brains pioneering a way for women and people of color in sports broadcasting. You'd swear the television set turned High Definition when Jayne was on the air; and HD wouldn't exist for another decade or more. That was how buttery and lovely her skin looked on television; in color or black & white.
If they haven't already, I'd like to see the NFL honor Jayne Kennedy for her contributions to NFL football and sports broadcasting. Jayne is a legend to many of us sports fans. She fits right in with the nostalgia of that era's professional football.
Thanks for being our Beauty in the broadcast booth Jayne. You were that and so much more.
Raider Nation Salutes You!