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Craig James Speaker Profile
Sports commentator, Craig James, was born on January 2, 1961 in Jacksonville, Texas. James is sports commentator for games on the ABC and ESPN television networks. Prior to becoming a sportscaster, James was a professional football player for the New England Patriots of the National Football League and for the Washington Federals of the United States Football League.
Craig James attended Stratford High School in Houston, Texas, where he was a star on Stratford's 1978 Texas class 4A championship football team, setting the single-season Texas 4A rushing record with 2,411 yards gained in 15 games. James, a running back also attended Southern Methodist University where he and teammate Eric Dickerson formed what was known as the "Pony Express" backfield (SMU's mascot is the mustang). In the 1980 Holiday Bowl (known as the Miracle Bowl), James' offensive production of 225 rushing yards and 9.9 yards/carry were both Holiday Bowl records that stood for 13 and 15 years respectively. In 1982, he scored on a 96-yard touchdown reception to set a new record as the longest scoring play in Southwest Conference history. James was a part of the SMU teams that were found to have committed numerous NCAA violations, including receiving large sums of money from school boosters, which led to the enactment of the "Death Penalty" upon the school by the NCAA, although James himself was never accused of any wrongdoing.
After he graduated in 1982, James was drafted by the Washington Federals of the USFL with the 4th overall pick in the spring league's inaugural draft. James subsequently signed with the Federals a week after being drafted.
His first pro campaign in Washington saw James and the Feds struggle to a 4-14 record. He rushed for 823 yards and 4 TDs in 14 games (starting 14). He also caught 40 passes out of the backfield that season.
The following year in 1984, James suffered a knee injury on Sun. March 4th in a game at RFK against the Philadelphia Stars. He was placed on injured reserve later that week. He was subsequently released by the cash-strapped Federals a month later allowing him to join the Patriots for their training camp in August that year.
With the Patriots, he was named Offensive Player of the Year by the Vince Lombardi Committee in 1985 and started in both the 1985 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XX.
In the 1985-86 season, James rushed for 1,227 yards, becoming the last white player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. This achievement has garnished him the nickname "The Great White Hope". He was a major factor in the Patriots 31-14 upset win over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC title game, rushing for a career postseason high 105 yards. However, he was dominated by the Bears defense in Super Bowl XX, who held him to only 1 yard on 5 carries.
James retired from the NFL after the 1988 season, having rushed for 2,469 yards and eleven touchdowns in his five seasons with the Patriots. He also garnered 819 yards receiving and two touchdown catches.
After James retirement from playing in 1989, he went on to become a radio analyst for SMU college football games and then the sports anchor for KDFW-TV. During this time, he also appeared on ESPN as a studio analyst on the College GameDay and College Football Scoreboard programs. In 1996, he joined CBS where he served as a studio analyst on their College Football Today as well as The NFL Today programs before becoming a game announcer on The NFL on CBS with Kevin Harlan. During his CBS stint, he also served as a reporter during the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship as well as the 1998 Winter Olympics. In 2003, James moved to ABC.
James famously said in 1998 that the Wisconsin Badgers were "the worst team to ever play in the Rose Bowl." Wisconsin went on to beat #6 UCLA 38-31. Afterward, Badger coach Barry Alvarez fired back, "Well, I know we're at least the second worst."
James also operates his own broadcasting school, eponymously called the Craig James School of Broadcasting.
Craig James now lives in Celina, Texas with his wife Marilyn and their four children. His brother Chris was a Major League Baseball player from 1986 through 1995. His son Adam is a redshirt freshman tight end for Texas Tech.
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