GAME DAY: A recent report on Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns.


14. Pam Oliver Scores Points With Fans

Pam Oliver has held a No. 1 sideline reporting position at Fox Sports for two decades. (Photo: Direct Sportslink)

Pam Oliver has held a No. 1 sideline reporting position at Fox Sports for two decades. (Photo: Direct Sportslink)

Pam Oliver is a football fan favorite — not just for her sports chops, but also for being a class act. She’s been praised for taking the high road when Fox Sports placed Erin Andrews in the No. 1 sideline reporting spot covering the NFL that she’s held for two decades.

Oliver stayed out of the drama zone, leaving others to debate whether ageism, sexism and racism were at play — or whether Fox placed more value on entertainment over journalistic expertise.

Now in her 20th year with the network and one of the most familiar faces covering pro football, it’s clear that she loves what she does. In addition to Fox, where she has worked since 1995, she has covered pro sports for ESPN and TNT.

“Oliver brought a professional approach to the job week after week,” said Cindy Boren, social media editor for sports at The Washington Post, where she also blogs for The Early Lead.

“Neither breezy nor blonde, she supplied information without becoming a distraction to anyone other than Internet trolls,” Boren said of Oliver. “Only last season did she become part of the story when she was struck on the head by a football and suffered a concussion.” The 53-year-old Oliver also became part of the story over a bad hair day that went viral earlier this year. But she didn’t let the mane thing become the main thing.

Born in Dallas but reared in a military family in several states, Oliver grew up watching sports with her father, which she preferred over children’s shows, according to her bio. She was a standout in tennis, basketball, and track and field at the Niceville, Fla., high school. An All-American in track at Florida A&M University, she graduated with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism in 1984.

In 1985, she started her career as a TV reporter at WALB in Albany, Ga. After a year, she moved on to WAAY in Huntsville, Ala., and then WIVB in Buffalo, N.Y. She became a sports anchor at WTVT in Tampa, Fla., in 1991, and KHOU in Houston.

Here’s a timeline on Oliver and other black women who have covered sports on air or behind the scenes from the 1940s to the present.