Elinor Kaine-first female NFL writer (audio)

by Amy Goodwin on August 1, 2013

Elinor Kaine Penna, in the 1960’s, was the first female sportswriter to exclusively cover the NFL. Kaine is most famous for not getting into the Yale Bowl press box on August 18, 1969 at the NY Jets 37-14 exhibition victory over the NY Giants. Miss Kaine went to court before officials would allow her to cover the game from the press box with the other 356 male writers and broadcasters. Yale granted permission but when Kaine arrived, she was seated in an auxiliary lower section. The picture of her rejection was circulated in newspapers all over the world, and she was quoted as saying, “A lot of men came down at halftime to say hello.”

A 1957 Smith college graduate and a syndicated columnist, Kaine’s publications included Line Back, Pro Football Broadside and A Woman’s Angle which appeared in newspapers all over the country. She also had columns in the game programs of eight pro football teams. In 1969 Macmillan published her book, PRO FOOTBALL BROADSIDE.

Also a television personality appeared twice on the game show “What’s My Line.” From 19690-1971 she did the Sunday Pre-Game show before NFL games on CBS with Pat Summerall and Jack Whitaker. She left sportswriting in 1971 when she married and moved to France.

John Steadman, Sports Editor for Baltimore News-America said, “She can gather more inside information without venturing inside a single locker room than J. Edgar Hoover, Walter Winchell and Louella Parsons combined.”

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