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NFL trailblazer Beth Mowins to call Bills-Dolphins game

Beth Mowins has called the play by play for thousands of sporting events over the past 25 years.

So when the ball was kicked off for the season-opening Monday Night Football game between the Chargers and Broncos in September, the mechanics of Mowins' job behind the play-by-play microphone were utterly routine and familiar.

"The preparation was exactly the same as it's always been," Mowins said. "That's kind of what you rely on in those big moments – your preparation, your repetition over the years, being confident in your ability that when the moment comes, you're going to be at your best."

"There just were a lot more people watching instead of my mom and dad and my brothers," she said, laughing.

Mowins has made sports broadcasting history this season. By calling the Chargers-Broncos game on ESPN, she became only the second female play-by-play announcer on an NFL telecast. The first was Gayle Sierens, who called a season-ending game for NBC 30 years ago, in 1987. That was a one-off event. Mowins is part of the CBS NFL broadcasting roster this season.

She called a Colts-Browns game in Week 3, becoming the first female play-by-play announcer for the NFL on CBS in its 58-year history.

And she will call Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins for CBS at New Era Field. Former NFL place-kicker Jay Feely will be Mowins' color-commentating partner.

"She's a consummate professional," Feely said. "The greatest thing about Beth is she doesn't want to be known for being a woman or get a job because she's a woman. She wants to be judged on the quality of her work. I think she does excellent work. She's incredibly prepared. She knows the game. She loves the game."

It won't be the first Bills game for Mowins, 50. She was born and raised in Syracuse, and she attended a Dallas-Buffalo game in Orchard Park as a fan in 1996.

"Thurman Thomas and Emmitt Smith both were running that day," Mowins said.

She was a Cowboys fan as a youngster.

"That was the heyday of Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson," she said. "Back in those days, the Bills, the Jets and the Giants all were struggling. So everybody in Syracuse kind of had to pick their own team."

Mowins knew from an early age she wanted to become a broadcaster, doing pretend calls of her three brothers' games in the backyard.

After playing Division I college basketball for Lafayette, she earned a master's degree in communications from Syracuse University and started a long climb in the broadcasting business.

She has worked many sports for ESPN since 1994, including men's and women's college basketball, soccer, volleyball and the NCAA women's softball world series. In 2005, ESPN made her the second woman play-by-play announcer for college football games, and she has served in that role the past 13 years.

She also has called play by play for Oakland Raiders preseason games the past three years.

She earned her way into the NFL booth.

"That Monday Night Football game was pretty significant because you grew up watching it," she said. "Then the first NFL game on CBS was a huge milestone for me because we all grew up watching the NFL on CBS with Pat Summerall and then Jim Nantz."

"As a father of three girls," said Feely, "I'm always telling them you can do anything you want. Don't let anybody put any type of restrictions on your dreams. She's the living embodiment of that, which is cool."

While women have held prominent sideline reporter roles on NFL broadcasts for many years, more and more women are gaining prominent sports broadcasting gigs, particularly as talk-show hosts. Doris Burke does color commentary for the NBA on ABC and ESPN.

Mowins is confident more women will be breaking into football play by play.

"I absolutely think that the landscape is so different today for me and for other women than it was for Gayle," Mowins said. "You can look around at the coverage of women's sports today and see all of the female play-by-play announcers getting opportunities. And some of them have worked the men's sports. Even on the play-by-play side, they're calling football and basketball."

"It's a very unique skill set," Mowins said. "Most of the people I know who call play by play, it's been a lifelong calling. The whole thing is repetition. You've got to put in the hours and the work. I do see a lot more young women doing that and working their way up through the ranks. I'm hopeful there will be a lot more opportunities in the future."

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