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SUPER BOWL: CBS’ James Brown to keep an open mic for Christians, non-Christians alike

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (BP)–When Super Bowl XLIV is beamed into millions of homes across the country and around the world on Sunday, CBS commentator James Brown will be in the middle of the action, reporting live from the turf of Sun Life Stadium.

The host of the popular CBS pre-game show “The NFL Today” with former Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowher and former players Dan Marino, Shannon Sharpe and Boomer Esiason, Brown is responsible for setting up the action and getting the best commentary from his colleagues before kickoff.

But Brown, an active believer and regular worshiper in his hometown of Washington, D.C., said he will have another mission during the coming week’s preparations and interviews, making sure athletes who want to talk about their faith in Jesus Christ are given the chance.

“I treat them just like I treat everybody else if they are explaining to me Who accounts for their success and Who their foundation is.

“It’s important to me that it gets the same degree of airing as those who don’t use faith as their bedrock foundation,” he said in advance of the pre-game buildup for the matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.

A veteran of local television in the nation’s capital, then a 10-year stint with CBS Sports and 12 years at Fox Sports before returning to CBS in 2006, Brown says he has seen the Word of God from athletes’ interviews discarded because the journalists didn’t feel it should be aired.

“Too often in our business if it’s a taped interview, you’ll find any references to Jesus Christ and Christianity taken out and it will hit the cutting room floor,” Brown said. “That’s not fair and that’s not right.”

The author of the newly released book, “Role of a Lifetime,” Brown said he has grown in his faith and grown wise about the sometimes-unethical ways of TV, but he’s determined to let God’s light shine wherever it can.

Brown, who is doing his second Super Bowl for CBS, said he’s clearly aware of the huge stage in this week’s Super Bowl for Christian players and coaches, noting, “You have to allow His light to shine this week, do all that I do excellently unto Him.”

Brown recounted in his new book that, while growing up, he often envisioned himself in a world championship event like the Super Bowl, but he always figured it would be in the NBA Finals, not a football coronation like this weekend’s showdown.

An All-American basketball player at DeMatha High School, he accepted a scholarship to Harvard, the first person in his family to enroll in a four-year university. He later turned down a chance to visit powerhouse UCLA and its legendary coach John Wooden because he had already committed to Harvard.

“My mother always taught me, your word is your bond and after you shake on something, you don’t change your mind.”

After a stellar college career, he was drafted by the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and was the last player cut from the roster before the season started.

“There were guys on the roster that I felt I was better than, but God had a different plan for my life.”

He worked in the corporate world for several years, earning what the world would consider real success, but finding only emptiness before turning his life over to Jesus Christ and letting Him control his new career path.

“God is the bedrock on which I stand, everything I do emanates from that,” Brown said. “I make it a point to come before the Lord to ask quite simply that everything I do on this day honor Him. If I make it a point to do that, everything I do will be for that purpose.”

After leaving corporate sales, he spent time with a local Washington TV station and with CBS Sports before joining Fox and getting his first national break when Fox began airing NFC games on television and started its hugely successful pre-game show.

While his weekly national visits with America’s football fans have greatly increased his visibility, they also have allowed him to share his faith with more non-Christians in the NFL and on the CBS studio set.

“I wish I could be more effective with them, but the key is to be the living example so that what I attempt to do when the situation comes up is be ready.

“I am not trying to go around and beat them over the head with the Bible, but show by my actions I am operating in the realm of love in all that I do.”

With his television role to make the other people on the CBS set look good, Brown says he’s drawn as his life verse Philippians 2:3, which says , “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Brown said in the midst of this week’s jam-packed schedule of Super Bowl events, he prays he and other Super Bowl participants will have opportunities to voice their faith for all the sports-crazed world to hear.
Art Stricklin is a sports correspondent for Baptist Press.

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