James Brown spends Sundays during the football season as the host of “NFL Today” on CBS with his own team of former football greats: Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe, Dan Marino and Coach Bill Cowher.
As a seasoned sports show host, “JB” has covered the NBA, NCAA basketball, the NFL and the Olympics. This Harvard-educated man, and former college basketball standout, is one of the most interesting Christian men in the world of sports. He has been a strong Christian example by consistently living out his faith in both his personal and professional life. In this interview, Roman Gabriel III met with Brown at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans to discuss faith, family and sports. Below are excerpts from the interview, which was edited for clarity, brevity and length.
Q: Millions of people see you as James Brown “NFL Today” host on CBS. But very few people know that you are out preaching the gospel in churches all over the place in your off time. What are your thoughts on that part of your life?
A: I’m thrilled to be doing such work, but who would have thunk it? That [this] is something I would be doing? But … I really have a passion for it. … We often talk about it, and we all talk about how sports mirrors society if you will. And I believe that all truth is parallel, that which is true in the natural is also true in the supernatural. We play games here for the purpose of winning well in the game of life. We ought to be about playing that game for the purpose of winning as well. Because there are winners and losers in the game of life, and I am just trying to do my part. [I want] to walk the walk myself first and foremost. [I] also [want] to be an encouragement to others [and] to understand … that there are winners and losers in life ultimately.
Q: You interviewed the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis recently before his last game in Super Bowl VLVII. What are your thoughts about this athlete?
A: For him to be so passionate about it 24-7, there’s nothing that’s fake about it when he’s on the air giving credit and giving praise. … It’s genuine. Yes, there are those out there who would read into it that he’s trying to win us over or he’s trying to cover up what was there in the past [murder charges that were dismissed more than a decade ago]. You know what, that’s between him and the Lord. But for what its worth from my perspective…. the guy is genuine. … There’s a discernment of spirits that one employs to understand whether or not there’s genuineness there. … I have not discerned anything else but genuineness in him.
Roman Gabriel III, left, interviews James Brown, host of “NFL Today” on CBS Sports.
Q: How has studying the Bible daily changed your life?
A: Thankfully, prayerfully the day cannot start without it. If per chance I get up on a given day and embark on it without it, it’s not too hard to see when things start to go awry. … That’s when the Holy Spirit reminds me. … God says in His Word to seek Him early and put on the whole armor of God. And when we talk about getting food for the day, so many scriptures are there. God says that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of [His] mouth. We talk about putting on the armor [of] God to prepare for battle. The only thing that is left exposed is my back, and … God has my back in that regard as well too.
Q: How does that specifically carry over in your life as a broadcaster?
A: Before I go on every broadcast I make it a point … I now pray with my wife to make certain that my tongue is guarded that I season my words with salt to allow His light [to] shine in everything that I do. It governs everything that I do in life. And I must do that. I don’t go around trying to beat people over the head with the Bible, but I hope that I’m [a] living epistle and an ambassador for Christ, and to model that behavior, because well done is better than well said.
Q: Did you ever have a critical time in your life where you felt like God spoke to you clearly?
A: Yes. 1974. I was working for the Xerox corporation as a young salesmen, making a little money, nice sports car, my own apartment. [I] thought I was hot stuff on the way up, living the happy hour lifestyle, the whole nine yards, engaged in a life of pleasure hedonistic lifestyle, a seeker of pleasures. And I felt empty. … I remember a real late night drive … going home probably from a nightclub. … I felt so empty, and I remember asking the Lord then because I knew what was missing.
“If You would come into my life, I accept you [in]to my life. Would You help me change my life? And I’ll commit myself to Your work.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III hosts Sold Out Sports Saturday nights at 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email [email protected]. His website is www.soldouttv.com.)