Although mostly retired today, Lesley Visser was once one of the most ubiquitous TV personalities in sports broadcasting. For more than 40 years, first as a pioneering female sportswriter with the Boston Globe and later in assuming a number of TV network assignments, she carved out a career inspired by her mother’s urging to follow her dreams (expressed in this autobiography’s title). Visser became the first and only woman enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and wound up rubbing elbows with countless sports celebrities, many of whom she’s photographed with in the book. Her story is a testament to the powers of persistence, humor, and a love and knowledge of sports coupled with a zestful, outgoing nature. Today, Visser appears on CBS’s “We Need to Talk,” which is the first-ever nationally televised all-female weekly sports talk show, according to the network.
Here’s an excerpt from Sometimes You Have to Cross When It Says Don’t Walk:
“The significance of being the first woman in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is that today women can do anything they want to do. My entire career came about because of my love of sports. I never for one second set out for the money or the fame. Being the first woman in Canton is stunning because I started out like everybody else – I just loved sports. It’s funny when I look back. At one point in my career I described myself as a ‘hardcore football, basketball, baseball guy.…’ It makes me laugh when I think about it. I always said there are two kinds of women who do this for a living: women who love sports and end up on television, and women who want to be on television and end up in sports. After a while, you can tell which is which. John Madden wrote me a beautiful note before the ceremony that contained words I often repeat when I speak in public. It said, ‘You can’t be born into the Hall of Fame, you can’t buy your way into the Hall of Fame, you have to earn it.’ ”