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Craig James
Date of birth: January 2, 1961 (1961-01-02) (age 49)
Place of birth: Jacksonville, Texas
Career information
Position(s): RB
Jersey №: 32
College: SMU
NFL Draft: 1983 / Round: 7 / Pick 187
 As player:
Washington Federals (USFL)
New England Patriots
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls: 1986
Playing stats at

Jesse Craig "Pony" James (born January 2, 1961 in Jacksonville, Texas) is an American 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.



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.[1] In 1982, he scored on a 96-yard touchdown reception to set a new record as the longest scoring play in Southwest Conference history.[2] 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,[3] 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 Sunday, March 4 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.

According to James on the ESPN broadcast of the Florida State Seminoles vs. North Carolina Tar Heels, the first player to tackle him in the NFL was Lawrence Taylor.

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 garnered him the nickname "The Great White Hope".[4] 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.

Radio and television

After his retirement from playing in 1989, James 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 analyst on 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. He served as a studio analyst on their college football coverage through the 2008 season. He also appears as an analyst on ESPN's Thursday night package as well as other college football programs such as College Football Live. He is now teamed with Mike Patrick and sideline reporter Heather Cox as game analyst for the 2009 season, working ESPN on ABC Saturday afternoon broadcasts, while still working the Thursday night package.

James also operates his own broadcasting school, eponymously called the Craig James School of Broadcasting.

James said in 1998 that the Wisconsin Badgers were "the worst team to ever play in the Rose Bowl." Wisconsin went on to defeat #6 UCLA 38–31 in the 1999 Rose Bowl. Afterward, Badger coach Barry Alvarez fired back, "Well, I know we're at least the second worst."[5][6]


He 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 sophomore receiver for Texas Tech.

Texas Tech controversy

Adam James was the center of the controversy that resulted in Texas Tech suspending, and later firing, head football coach Mike Leach shortly before the 2010 Alamo Bowl. Leach allegedly had James twice stand in a shed for two hours during practice. In light of the allegations, ESPN removed Craig James from announcing the Alamo Bowl, replacing him with Mike Patrick.[7][8][9][10][11] In a lawsuit filed by Leach against Texas Tech, he alleges that Adam James "voluntarily placed himself into the electrical closet and apparently took pictures with his phone camera". He further alleges that Craig James was angered over his son's demotion to third string and that he "thought school chancellor Kent Hance was going to try to 'railroad' [him], because of a business relationship between James and Hance." In response, Craig James released the following statement on January 14: "Since the James family is not a party to the lawsuit, we deem it inappropriate to discuss it."[12]

External links


  1. ^ "Holiday Bowl individual rushing records". Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Retrieved 2006-01-05.  
  2. ^ "No. 82 in the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History". SMU Athletics. Retrieved 2006-01-05.  
  3. ^ Layden, Tim (2006-07-14). "Embarrassing moments". Sports Illustrated.  
  4. ^ Hill, Jemele (September 26, 2008). "Whatever happened to the white tailback?". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-09-28.  
  5. ^ Howard-cooper, Scott (January 2, 1999). "After Dayne Runs Them Over, They Beat Themselves Up - UCLA Conquered and Divided After Rose Bowl Defeat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-04-04.  
  6. ^ Gurnick, Ken (January 2, 1999). "COLLEGE FOOTBALL: ROSE BOWL; Badgers Prove Doubters Wrong". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-04.  
  7. ^ Friedman, Emily (29 December 2009). "Coach Mike Leach, Suspended After Claims of Abuse, Wants to Play in Bowl". ABC News. Retrieved 30 December 2009.  
  8. ^ "Leach suspended after player complaint". 2009-12-28. Retrieved 2009-12-28.  
  9. ^ "Texas Tech fires Leach". 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2009-12-30.  
  10. ^ "Texas Tech Fires Coach Mike Leach". New York Times. 2009-12-39.  
  11. ^ "Texas Tech suspends Mike Leach after player complains about treatment". USA Today. December 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-28.  
  12. ^ "Suit alleges phone calls by James' father". ESPN. January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010.  
Preceded by
Tony Collins
New England Patriots Starting Running Back
Succeeded by
Tony Collins


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