As his famous name implies, Emmy-Award winning sports journalist James Brown is the hardest working man in the industry.
He hosts the “NFL Today on CBS,” “Inside the NFL on Showtime” and “Thursday Night Football.” In addition, it’s not unusual to see Brown anchoring an edition of the “CBS Evening News” or contributing a story as a special correspondent.
With so much on his plate, it’s amazing that what Brown enjoys talking about most is not the next sports or news project he’s working on. Brown delights in spreading the word about his faith as an ordained Christian minster.
The Defender visited with J.B. when he was in town for Super Bowl LI. In addition to an exhaustive schedule, Brown found time to preach three services at St. John’s UMC Downtown prior to the game. He also brought the message at First Baptist Church in Pasadena.
Brown explained his evolution in ministry.
“Around 2002, my pastor, Bishop Arvel Givens at Rhema Christian Center [in the Washington, D.C. area] asked me and my wife to head up the youth ministry at the church, which we accepted,” Brown recalled.
“Also about that time I was starting to get invitations to speak at churches. I said, ‘Bishop, people are sending me invitations. I’m still learning the word and I won’t step out of the boundaries of what I currently know relating to the word. I’m not going to pretend or attempt to speak about things I don’t know or have yet to study. They’re extending the invitation thinking I’m going to give them a motivational speech as James Brown, the sportscaster.’
“He said, ‘You go. They may be expecting that, but you give them Jesus Christ.’ That was the encouragement I got from him and I’ve been doing it ever since. In 2009 I was blessed to be ordained as a minister. I am a minister on staff at our church and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Brown discussed how his ministry is received in the macho, testosterone-driven world of professional football.
“Among my colleagues, I don’t go around trying to beat people over the head with the Bible,” he said. “I try to be a living epistle. I try to walk it. If people open up the door and inquire then cool, I’ll go ahead. When I’m on my job, I’m about doing my job.
“When Jesus was approached and asked the question who we should give our allegiance to, Caesar or Jesus, He picked up a coin and asked whose picture is on the coin. Then He said render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, render unto the Lord what belongs to the Lord. On my job my aim is always to do everything that I do excellently as unto to the Lord, as the word says. If I do that my bosses can’t help but be pleased with the excellence of my work.”
Brown added that many pro players come from families of faith.
“…They come from a family where grandma, grandpa, mom or dad were some praying folk. I remember during a Thursday night game in Houston the year before last a player from the Indianapolis Colts came over during warm-ups came and said, ‘I just want you to know I’m a brother in Christ too, and appreciate your stand. Keep me lifted up too.’ ”
With an active schedule that keeps him busy, Brown is quick to acknowledge the role his wife plays in helping him stay balanced.
“My wife Dorothy is so patient with me during the football season,” he said. “I’m on the road about 21 or 22 consecutive weekends doing not only ‘The NFL Today,’ but this year adding ‘Inside the NFL’ and ‘Thursday Night Football,’ in addition to so much of my ministry travel. She is very supportive. It would be impossible to do what I do without her.”
As a minister, Brown knows he automatically will receive scrutiny and at the same time will be considered a role model, especially to some players.
“I’m not saying I’m the best or a perfect example of that, but I certainly try,” he said. “Every last one of us is flawed, as the word says, but I try and walk that walk. If I can help influence a player on the importance of character it’s fine.”