The NFL gears up for its premiere event, the Super Bowl, this weekend with multiple pre-game shows and interviews with an array of announcers, some of whom are Black women.

They owe a debt to a 70’s beauty queen who was also a pioneer for women sports announcers.  Ohio native Jayne Kennedy achieved fame as a beauty pageant winner, model, actress and sports broadcaster over the course of her career.

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Kennedy’s contributions to broadcasting came at a time where they were very few women working in that field. Kennedy was born on October 27, 1951 in Washington, D.C. The first of her many achievements happened in 1970 when she became the first Black Miss Ohio. The win landed her in the Miss USA pageant, where she was one of 15 semi-finalists.

Kennedy married DJ and actor Leon Kennedy and the pair headed to California to chase their acting dreams. Kennedy worked consistently through the 70s in bit roles while also gracing the covers of magazines such as “Ebony” and “Jet.” In 1978, Kennedy joined “The NFL Today” program on CBS, one of the first woman overall to anchor a national sports broadcast. She then went to work for the “Greatest Sports Legend” show, the only woman to ever host the nationally syndicated program.

In 1981, Kennedy became the first Black actress to cover “Playboy” magazine but she elected to stay mostly clothed for her photo shoot. She then entered the world of fitness videos in the 80s with her “Love Your Body” series. Kennedy wrote and produced the popular series, which competed with then popular fitness icons Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda. Kennedy divorced her first husband in 1982.

Years later, a private sex tape was leaked featuring the pair, tarnishing Jayne’s previously wholesome image and doing what some observers believe was permanent damage to her career. Though that kind of scandal would become commonplace later, at the time it was difficult to rebound from.

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Leon Kennedy filed suit against “Ebony” magazine in 2014 for publishing a 2013 article that implied he was responsible for the tape’s release. According to the actor, who is now an evangelist and says he remains on good terms with his former wife, the tape was stolen from their home and distributed nearly a decade after their divorce.

Kennedy, who has an Emmy and NAACP Image Award to her credit among other honors, has been largely absent from the limelight for the last two decades. She and her husband, actor Bill Overton, raised four daughters. In a 2011 interview, Kennedy said she was working on a couple of film projects but wanted to focus on her getting her youngest daughter through high school, who was then a sophomore.

PHOTO: NBC\

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