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We Are Liberal Arts: Love For The Game

Charean Williams ‘86 used her love for football, passion for journalism, and devotion to Texas A&M University to blaze a trail for women in NFL coverage.

By Rachel Knight ‘18

Before Charean Williams ‘86 became an award-winning journalist who has covered 28 super bowls and seven Olympic games, she was a second-grader who innocently told her teacher, Cindy Bridges, she was going to marry Roger Staubach. 

A phone call from Bridges to the local paper resulted in a story declaring Williams as the Cowboy’s youngest fan before reporting that her life-long goal was to cover the Dallas Cowboys. With a little help from the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, Williams has done much more than cover the Cowboys. She’s paved the way for women in sports journalism. 

“I didn’t know that girls didn’t cover football,” Williams shared. “I didn’t know that it was a male job, and only a male job. And I don’t know that it really mattered either.”

Williams’ path to becoming a sports journalist began in 1982 when she came to the College of Liberal Arts. 

“There are a lot of things that made A&M the perfect place for me,” she shared. “It was all those liberal arts classes that were my favorite classes, because that’s what I was going to do.”

Williams quickly found a place on campus to put her budding journalism skills to use.

“I remember the excitement when I joined The Battalion staff in the fall of 1983 and got to cover my first game. It was Texas Tech and A&M,” Williams recalled. “It was a great learning ground for us to make our mistakes, and do some great things, and it was a little of everything, which you need in journalism.”

In 1994, Williams began covering the National Football League. She covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until 1999 when she left Tampa and started covering the Cowboys at the Fort Worth Star Telegram. She remained at the Fort Worth Star Telegram for 17 seasons before heading to NBC Sports and ProFootballTalk on Peacock, where she continues to cover NFL news today.

In 2018, Williams won the Dick McCann Award, which was renamed the Bill Nunn Memorial Award in 2021, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In her acceptance speech, she acknowledged the fact that she was the first female added to the list of winners. 

“I never made a tackle or a block, or threw or caught a touchdown pass,” Williams explained in her acceptance speech. “But my love for the game is as deep as any man who donned the uniform or paced the sideline.”

Just as her legacy in NFL coverage will always be recognized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, women with aspirations to cover the NFL will always recognize Williams as a trailblazer. 

“If I hadn’t done some of the things that I’ve done and been the first to do, somebody else would have done them, but I hope by me accomplishing some of the things that I’ve accomplished, and setting some of the firsts that I’ve set, that it makes things easier for women who come after me,” she explained. “I hope in some way, I’ve led to the, ‘who’s next?’ question, instead of the ‘who’s first?’ question.”

Williams has made it easier for students in the College of Liberal Arts to answer the “who’s next?” question by establishing the Charean Williams Scholarship for Journalism. 

“I give back to the College of Liberal Arts, because it did so much for me,” Williams said. “So if I can help somebody else who wants to do this, get where I am. I want to do that.”

Her career began with her love for football, passion for journalism, and devotion to Texas A&M. Now she’s a lifetime achievement award recipient in her field and a distinguished alumna at her alma mater. 

“Coming to A&M turned out to be one of the greatest things that’s ever happened in my life,” Williams shared. “I think it made me who I am as a journalist. And I think I’m pretty good at what I do because I came to Texas A&M.”