How women are becoming the NFL's most valuable players

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the past ten years, Megan Lopresti and her friends have been meeting up every Sunday for one reason.

"I like all the sports, but there's something about football always just keeps you on your toes."

en-miller.png

Megan Lopresti's friends cheer while watching an NFL game

CBS News

Lopresti and her crew are part of a growing demographic for the NFL. Forty-three percent of its fan base is women. And it's not just the fans.

Last month, the Buffalo Bills made history in hiring the first full-time female coach.

Tracy Wolfson is the lead sideline reporter for CBS Sports.

"Women never got the chance to play football, you just watch it from afar. So it's intriguing because you don't really know much about it but you want to be part of it," said Wolfson.

She's loved football ever since she wore pigtails.

"I think the NFL has made a big push, whether it's breast cancer awareness month, whether it's uniforms ... tailored jerseys, pink jerseys, [or] the commercials you see on TV," Wolfson said of the NFL attracting women.

enmiller0204.png

Tracy Wolfson

CBS Sports

Madison Avenue is taking note. Last year 54 million women watched the Super Bowl.

"It is big business, yes it is," said Suzanne Johnson, wife of Jets owner Woody Johnson. She's a fashion ambassador for the NFL, where women's merchandise is the fastest growing sector. According to Fanatics, sales have increased more than 20 percent in a year.

"The woman is the glue that holds the whole family together. The woman makes most of the decisions, and that includes purchasing power," said Johnson.

So while the men may score the winning touchdown this Super Bowl Sunday, women are fast becoming football's most valuable players.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.