Craig James – FOX Sports Southwest (2013)
A few years ago, Craig James was one of the top color commentators on ESPN’s rosters, doing ESPN on ABC’s Saturday afternoon games, as well as Thursday night games on ESPN. In 2011, he announced that he was leaving his lengthy broadcast career behind to run for U.S. Senate.
It didn’t go well.
In the Texas Senate GOP primary David Dewhurst won by 44.6%, Ted Cruz 34.2%, Tom Leppert 13.3%, Craig James 3.6%, the race goes to a runoff.
— Z.L.S. (@ZLS_Politics) May 31, 2012
James finished fourth in the Republican primary for the Texas seat, accruing just 3.6-percent of the vote. During the campaign, he chastised Dallas mayor Tom Leppert for attending a gay pride parade during a debate. From KERA News‘ transcription:
James: I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you’re saying, Tom, but leaders – our kids out there people need to see examples.
Moderator: Do you think people choose to be gay?
James: I think it’s a choice, I do.
Moderator: It’s not in the genes?
James: I think that you have to make that choice. But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.
Those quotes may have cost him his job when he returned to sports broadcasting, depending on who you believe. James was hired by FOX Sports Southwest ahead of the 2013 college football season, but was let go after just one appearance. James is now suing FOX for religious discrimination. The network says that its decision was based on the fact that James began to run for senate while still employed by ESPN.
As we have previously stated, Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda. The decision had nothing to do with Mr. James’ religious beliefs and we did not discriminate against Mr. James in any way. The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them.
James has not been on television since that brief tenure with FOX Sports Southwest, and things aren’t looking great for him going forward.