What do you call the express lane of The Road to Hell?
So drastically does it reduce commute time that Craig James often back home in Malice, Texas, before cock crows twice.
What do you call the express lane of The Road to Hell?
So drastically does it reduce commute time that Craig James often back home in Malice, Texas, before cock crows twice.
Immediately after Craig James announced last December that he had decided to run for statewide political office in Texas, SbB reported via multiple sources that James was not likely to return as an ESPN college football announcer for the 2012 season.
In a brief statement to SbB today, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz essentially eliminated the prospect of James returning to the network.
ESPN’s Krulewitz: “We have no intention of bringing Craig James back in the future.”
Thus ends the second tenure of James at ESPN, which began in 2003. James, whose ESPN contract expires before the 2012 football season, also worked for ESPN in the early ’90s following his NFL playing career.
Today’s ESPN announcement comes as the network prepares to defend itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by Mike Leach against the network last November. The lawsuit also targets James and Dallas-based public relations firm Spaeth Communications by name.
While ESPN, obviously, will not confirm that the now-official departure of James from the network was related to the Leach litigation, it isn’t unreasonable to think that it may have been a factor.
That isn’t necessarily a given though, considering that Leach’s lawsuit, filed against ESPN and James on Nov. 24, 2010, did not deter ESPN from having James work the 2011 season for the network.
Krulewitz also told SbB today that any comments recently made by James on the U.S. Senate campaign trail in Texas, including his recent comments addressing gays, were unrelated to the timing of today’s statement. (Which was in response to a query lodged by SbB to ESPN three days ago - and unrelated to James’ comments about gays - regarding the future of James at the network.)
On October 14, 2004, David Hinojosa of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reported a story that was headlined, “Adam James is ready to be known as his own type of player.”
The story’s accompanying photo featured Adam James and his dad, ESPN announcer Craig James. In the shot, father James can be seen just over his son’s left shoulder.
While the headline suggested Adam James as the subject of the report, Hinojosa first mentioned “outside” perception that the Celina (TX) High School football player’s father, Craig James, was trying to use his status as an ESPN announcer to get his son “more playing time” at the school.
“Craig James walks a fine line when he attends a Celina (TX) High School football practice. Outsiders who have witnessed conversations between him and Celina coach Butch Ford have misconstrued them as a plea to get his son, Adam, more playing time.“
In the same DMN story Hinojosa noted that two years earlier, when Adam James was a freshman at Celina, “Craig began making appearances at practice (and the) whispers from the outsiders began.”
No Celina coaches, including Ford, were quoted in the Dallas Morning News story.
Hinojosa’s only on the record source - besides himself - on how the influence of Craig James on his son’s high school football program had been “misconstrued” was Craig James.
In the piece James told Hinojosa, “You would think being my son would be to his advantage, but it’s absolutely the opposite.”
One year later, on Nov. 9, 2005, Adam James was “selected” to play in a high school football all-star game which annually features the most sought-after high school football recruits in the nation and is nationally televised by NBC.
That year the game, the 2006 edition of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, included Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, C.J. Spiller, Sergio Kindle, Josh Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Gerald McCoy, Taylor Mays, Beanie Wells, Brandon Graham, Andre Smith and other future college stars and NFL players.
When he secured a coveted spot on an all-star game roster reportedly assembled by “the (2006) U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Team made up of Tom Lemming of CSTV and representatives of Scout.com“, Adam James had no Division I scholarship offers and 14 receptions in 10 games as a tight end playing in the state’s second-lowest (2A) Texas high school football classification.
Of that small school classification, Adam James became the first 2A high school school player from Texas in history to receive what many believe to be high school football’s highest honor despite the son of ESPN announcer Craig James having failed to receive 2A all-state recognition after his junior or senior seasons at Celina.
Adam James was also not ranked in the Top 100 Rivals.com position prospects for the state of Texas at the time of his “selection” to the roster of the Army All-American Bowl.
On Jan. 4, 2006, the first day of practice for the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS published a story about Adam James with the headline, “Famous father lends support to his H.S. All-American son.”
Express-News reporter Dan McCarney’s lede for the piece:
It was a college football fan’s dream: Ohio State playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl at a sold-out Sun Devil Stadium.
Yet even as he watched from the sideline, ABC analyst Craig James couldn’t help himself. He took a moment to sneak into a tunnel to call his 18-year-old son, Adam, who had just finished his first day of practice for Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“Here I am, watching Notre Dame and Ohio State go at it, and all that’s on my mind is what’s going on in San Antonio,” James said. “Last night, I couldn’t go to sleep. I’m so excited that he had a good day (Monday), that he enjoyed his time.”
Of his selection to a squad featuring numerous future NFL stars, Adam James told McCarney of the Express-News at the time:
“I was very surprised. I’ve never pictured myself as an All-American.”
“Every time I achieved something, it was because of my dad.”
“But I’ve realized that he’s not the one out there putting the work in.”
Of his son’s reaction to being “selected” for an all-star game roster spot reserved for high school football’s most-recruited, highest-rated players, Craig James told the Express-News:
“I can’t tell you how satisfying that is as a dad, that he recognized it and it wasn’t just coming from me.“
The same day as the Express-News story, a Rivals.com report published the following note from the Army All-American Bowl practice in San Antonio:
Colton (Calif.) linebacker Allen Bradford showed why he’s the No. 1 ranked player in the state of California by absolutely leveling Celina (Texas) tight end Adam James. This play had the West defense in an absolute frenzy.
James went unmentioned in the Associated Press recap of the game and in the extensive coverage of the event provided by the Express-News, Rivals.com and Scout.com - which included breakdowns of individual player perfomances. James was also not mentioned in the “postgame player recaps and analysis” published on the Army All-American Bowl’s official website.
On April 5, 2005, eight months before he was “selected” to the Army All-American Bowl roster, John Talman of Rivals.com reported of the “interest” Adam James was receiving from “numerous” major college football programs - and that the son of ESPN announcer Craig James was hoping for an offer from Texas A&M:
The Celina, Texas., prospect is receiving interest from numerous programs across the Lone Star state and much of the Big 12. However, one team is not only the leader but a childhood favorite as well.
“Yes, it’s Texas A&M by far,” James said. “Ever since I went to a game there when I was like five I’ve wanted to go there. Last year I got invited to come up to one of their games and I just really liked it.”
If the Aggies were to offer, James said it would be hard to resist.
“Yeah, I probably would commit if that happened,” James said about a possible Aggie offer. “The tradition is what got me. It’s just amazing.”
Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, Iowa, and others are actively sending him countless amounts of mail. Being the son of former NFL great Craig James also has his father’s alma mater SMU in hot pursuit.
On July 18, 2005, four months before he was “selected” to the Army All-American Bowl roster, John Talman of Rivals.com reported that Adam James was “accompanied” by his ESPN announcer dad, Craig James, as he participated in a 7-on-7 football tournament at Texas A&M.
Of Craig James, Talman noted in his story, “his father, who went through the (recruiting) process before, has decided to keep out of it for the most part to let his son make the best decision possible.” More:
“He’s real level headed,” James said about his son. “It’s interesting for me to go through the process on the other side now and being the parent. We are basically as a family looking for a match both athletically and academically.
“At the same time, I’m just sitting back and letting him work the process.”
Of schools interested in his football ability, Adam James said, “I’m having fun with it. Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and SMU are some schools that have been contacting me.”
On Dec. 12, 2005, two weeks before his first practice at the Army All-American Bowl, Jamie Newberg of Scout.com reported, “(Adam) James currently doesn’t have any scholarship offers but two teams could be close – Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.”
Of Oklahoma State, which Newberg reported “could be close” to offering Adam James a football scholarship, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James said at the time:
“I went to Oklahoma State for a game this season with three of my buddies. It kind of reminds me of Celina. It’s not a big campus. I think I fit well there too and they where orange like we (Celina’s colors) do.”
The day after the Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 9, 2006, Adam James told Rivals.com reporter John Talman that he now had football scholarship offers but wanted to keep them “on the down low” as he prepared to make multiple “official visits” to various schools.
Comments from the son of ESPN announcer Craig James in Talman’s Rivals.com piece titled, “James ready for trips“:
“I’ve got some offers, but we’re trying to keep that on the down low right now.”
“As for trips, I’m thinking of heading to Texas Tech, Texas, Boston College, Ole Miss, Nevada, and maybe one other school.”
On Jan. 18, 2006, Chris Pool of Scout.com reported that Adam James had multiple football scholarship offers. In the article, the son of ESPN announcer Craig James said:
“The thing is that I didn’t start to get recruited until January. I’m planning out my official visits right now. Wisconsin is starting to show some interest in me. Oklahoma State and Texas have started to show a lot of interest lately.”
One day later, Jan. 19, 2006, Bill Lowery of Rivals.com reported that before being selected to the Army All-American Bowl roster “few schools were aware” of the “abilities” of Adam James as a football player but “after playing in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on January 7, the recruitment of 6-foot-3 and 235-pound tight end Adam James of Celina (TX) High School has skyrocketed.”
Before his son announced his decision to enroll at Texas Tech, Craig James told the LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL:
“It’s a lot different, obviously, having this hat on. There’s a lot of happiness for my son and what he’s accomplished and now we’re trying to find a match for him to go to school. I’ve always thought that Texas Tech would be a great fit for him, but I’ve had to let him kind of make his way through this.”
The Lubbock newspaper also reported that according to Craig James, his son had “received scholarship offers from Boston College and Wisconsin, among others.”
After ESPN announcer Craig James alleged his son had “received scholarship offers from Wisconsin and Boston College” the Wisconsin Rivals.com website BadgerBlitz.com published a followup report about Wisconsin’s alleged recruitment of Adam James:
BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Celina, Texas three-star tight end Adam James Monday night to find out if the Wisconsin Badgers have shown interest in him.
According to the 6-foot-2, 230 pound James, the Badgers have shown interest but they no longer have a shot at the U.S. Army All-American. “Well, yeah I heard they were interested,” James said.
Outside of the Red Raiders, James said Oklahoma State and Texas showed interest from the Big 12 while Tulsa recruited hard, Boston College got into it and the Badgers showed up late.
“I talked to (Texas) a couple times,” James said. “Winning the national championship they were super busy so that didn’t go very far.
“Tulsa was recruiting me real hard and Boston College was getting into it. Wisconsin was going to get in too. I didn’t know why (they didn’t) but it was so late in the deal probably.”
In addition to reporting that Craig James had claimed Adam James had, “received scholarship offers from Boston College and Wisconsin”, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal also noted these comments from the ESPN announcer:
“Now it’s trying to find what would be a match. I have an advantage over a lot of dads, that I know what schools do offensively and where my son could fit - fit athletically and institutionally. I know this would be a good place.”
Craig James was actually in Lubbock the day he made the above comments about his son’s football recruitment to the Avalanche-Journal, which also reported why the ESPN announcer happened to be in town on Jan. 21, 2006:
Former SMU and NFL running back Craig James was in attendance at the Tech football banquet Saturday. James’ son, Adam, is on a recruiting visit to Tech this weekend.
24 hours later Adam James was a Texas Tech Red Raider.
Texas Tech was the first and only “visit” taken by Adam James after the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7, 2006.
When asked about Adam James 16 months later, on March 27, 2007, Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach told Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:
“We don’t entirely know what we have with him. Todd (Dodge) was the last set of football eyes that were on him at the all-star game. Todd kind of confirmed what I was thinking, what I thought I was seeing. So we’re excited to have him and looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.’“
Where did Todd Dodge’s “all-star game” assessment of Adam James that “kind of confirmed” what Leach “thought” he saw come from?
The same game in which Dodge had served as an assistant coach two weeks before Adam James was offered a scholarship by Texas Tech.
The 2006 Army All-American Bowl.
And the headline of the same March 27, 2007, newspaper story that “kind of confirmed” what Leach “thought” about Adam James?
While sitting in an unlocked media room adjacent to a Texas Tech practice field on December 19, 2009, Adam James sent his father, ESPN announcer Craig James, a series of text messages.
The text messages, sent while practice was underway on a 66-degree day in Lubbock, included the following:
Hey, you’re going to like this.
Leach thinks it’s impossible for me to have a concussion and that I’m just being a pussy.
So for punishment he had me locked in a pitch black shed for the whole practice.
And they won’t let me out.
And if they catch me even so much as leaning against the wall they’re going to kick me off the team
After receiving the text messages, Craig James replied via text, “can you call me?”
Adam James, who had been directed to the media room by head TTU trainer Steve Pincock, replied to his father, “no, just text.”
The ESPN announcer then text his son the message, “call me when you can and think about what you will allow me to do.”
On March 13, 2010, during his sworn deposition, Adam James recalled his thoughts when he first text his father:
“We have the same sense of humor and personality, and I thought — we thought it was funny. So I said ‘you’re going to like this.‘”
Adam James also said on March 13, 2010, that he had never spoken to Leach about the concussion he referenced in his texts to his father, nor did Leach or anyone else ever tell him he would be punished for “so much as leaning against the wall.”
On Dec. 19, 2009, after spending 90 minutes in the media room, Adam James eventually let himself out of the building as no one was outside to open the unlocked door.
After Craig James received the texts from his son on Dec. 19, 2009, he contacted then-Chairman of the Texas Tech Board of Regents, Larry Anders. Anders later recalled during a sworn deposition on March 23, 2010, how he was first introduced to the situation by the ESPN announcer:
.. there was a message on my wife’s cellphone from his (Craig James) wife Marilyn. That I needed to talk to Craig and it was a matter of life and death.
Anders, who had been set to attend a wedding event, contacted the ESPN announcer who told him his son had been “shut in an electrical closet” while “humiliated” with “extreme profanity” by Leach. Also during the call, which came on the same day Craig James had received the Dec. 19 texts from his son, Anders said the ESPN announcer demanded Leach apologize and “recommended” the coach be fired.
During his sworn depositon on April 13, 2010, current Texas Tech Board of Regents Chairman Jerry Turner, who was Vice Chairman at the time, reported what Anders told him of his exchange with Craig James on the same day the ESPN announcer received text messages from his son at TTU practice:
Larry said that based on his conversation with Craig James, Craig James wanted Mike Leach fired. I said to Larry, ‘I don’t believe that.’
Obviously I was wrong, Craig James did want Mike Leach fired.
Craig James also called Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance to report what his son had told him. Later, Hance recalled the conversation with the ESPN announcer during his March 11, 2010, sworn deposition:
He (Craig James) wanted an apology and he wanted him (Mike Leach) fired and I said, “‘Craig, if you fire him do you think he will apologize? Both things are not going to happen.’”
When asked at the same deposition if he thought a Leach apology to James could’ve saved the coach’s job, the Chancellor of Texas Tech said, “no.”
On the same day Adam James sent text messages to Craig James while Texas Tech practice was underway the son of the ESPN announcer also shot cellphone video of an “electrical closet.”
The space, which appeared well-lit in the video and included footage in which two chairs were visible, was located next to the media room where TTU Trainer Steve Pincock had ordered Adam James to stay for the remaining moments of practice.
Public relations firm Spaeth Communications founder Merrie Spaeth later indicated to SbB that, “immediately after the second (cellphone) video was shot (on Dec. 19), Craig James contacted Spaeth to advise him.”
The next day, Dec. 20, 2009, Texas Tech investigator Charlotte Bingham interviewed Adam James in response to the complaint from the James family about Leach to Texas Tech administrators.
On Dec. 23, 2009, Bingham provided a report of her fact finding to Hance, Anders, Turner, TTU President Guy Bailey and Athletic Director Gerald Myers. During her March 5, 2010, deposition, Bingham noted of her report about the James family complaint:
I informed President Bailey, Chancellor Hance, Larry Anders, Jerry Turner and Gerald Myers that Mike Leach had not required Adam James to stand in an electrical closet.
Adam James told me that he went into the electrical closet and that he stood in the electrical closet for approximately five minutes.
Bingham noted in her investigation that the son of the ESPN announcer had stayed in the media room for “one and a half hours“, with the door to the building “opened every 15 or 20 minutes” so TTU trainers could check on Adam James.
Bingham later said that TTU President Bailey’s Chief of Staff, Grace Hernandez, reported during the same Dec. 23, 2009, meeting that her own investigation had determined that Adam “never had to stand in an electrical closet.”
When asked during a deposition if he had heard that Adam James had “napped” during his 90-minute stay in the media room on Dec. 19, 2009, Texas Tech Chancellor Hance replied, “I’d heard that.”
Bingham also reported of Adam James during the same interview:
He stated that Coach Leach was verbally abusive to players, hated by the entire team and had made it living hell on the receivers.
Bingham also interviewed Craig James on Dec. 20, 2009 as part of the official internal Texas Tech investiation and later said that the ESPN announcer had made a”threat of litigation” against the school to her “and that (litigation against Texas Tech by the James family) would be a can of worms and it would not be pretty.”
The same day Bingham and Hernandez presented their findings of fact to Texas Tech officials, Craig James sent an email to TTU Chancellor Hance reporting that the claims of his son had now been “verified” and that, “if any organization or person did what Mike Leach did, they would be fired. Which is exactly what we expect to happen to Mike (Leach).”
Current Texas Tech Board of Regents Chairman Turner also received the email from the ESPN announcer and supplied this reaction to Hance:
I interpret his (Craig James) email as a threat he will go public if we don’t take the action he requested.
The next communication Turner received from James - via Hance - confirmed exactly that.
On Dec. 26, 2009, Hance received an email from Craig James that he forwarded to Turner, then-Board of Regents Chairman Anders and Texas Tech President Guy Bailey that included the following:
Bottom line: Tech is absolutely exposed as a university with each hour that passes. The team, the staff, and increasingly others at the school know that a substantial charge has been made, and we understand it has been verified by your own investigative team.
Kent, I ask you and the board members this: Have each of you seen the shed and electrical closet Adam was confined to? I’d recommend each of you visit the Places … walk in them and turn the lights off. NOW, imagine standing there for three hours in the cold without being allowed to sit down or lean against.
This story will become public at some point and you can count on the fact that some television cameras will show this picture.
During his March 13, 2010, deposition, Craig James was asked, “When you wrote this email of 12/26 you did not believe Adam had been confined to the electrical closet for a total of three hours, fair?”
Craig James replied, “Yes.”
On Dec. 27, 2009, TTU President Guy Bailey drafted a letter addressed to Mike Leach that included a private reprimand and $60,000 fine. The final line of the letter read:
This concludes the inquiry into allegations made by Adam James and his parents. If other information about other incidents emerges, we will investigate them and take appropriate action as warranted.
Instead of the letter being delivered, on the same day TTU investigator Bingham left a voicemail with Leach’s attorney that stated, “if there’s not just some incredible objection, Mike needs to sign the letter — that he sign the letter that he was presented with (earlier) — and return it to (TTU attorney’s office) or return it to the president (Guy Bailey) and then he needs to work on some sort of apology.”
No deadline of when the coach was required to fulfill the request was given by Bingham - or anyone at TTU - to Leach or his attorney.
In the same voicemail to Leach’s attorney, Bingham referenced “outside pressure” from Craig James as a reason Texas Tech was looking to resolve the James family complaint as soon as possible.
The next day Texas Tech announced that Leach had been suspended.
90 minutes after Texas Tech released a statement reporting that Leach’s suspension was in response to a complaint by the family of an unnamed Texas Tech football player, ESPN reporter Joe Schad broke the news that Adam James was the player in question.
Schad next provided the following details of the treatment of Adam James at the hands of the newly-suspended Texas Tech football coach:
A source close to the James family said Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James “to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours.”
A source told The Associated Press that James said Leach told him if he came out, he would be kicked off the team.
According to the source, Leach told the trainer, two days later, to “put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside.”
The claims by the anonymous “source close to the James family” were not noted in the ESPN report as being alleged, though the same claims had already been debunked by Texas Tech’s own internal investigation as part of the aformentioned report by Charlotte Bingham and Grace Hernandez to Texas Tech administrators seven days earlier.
Three months later, on March 13, 2010, deposition testimony by Adam James revealed that the claims that had previously - and repeatedly - been presented by ESPN as the primary facts that led to Leach’s Texas Tech ouster were actually completely incorrect.
After ESPN broke the news that Adam James was the player who had initiated the complaint - via his ESPN announcer father’s public relations firm - Spaeth Communications released a statement to the media that included, “The entire James family is supportive of the University and looks forward to a resolution of the matter.”
Less than 48 hours later, Mike Leach was fired.
After Leach’s firing, Craig James said of the media publicity that immediately preceded the coach’s ouster:
Anyone who thinks we were asked to go through this, think again. We had to do it.
This (Leach firing) is all a result of what happened to Adam a couple weeks ago.
There’s not a mom and dad in this country who wouldn’t have done what we did if they knew what we knew about our son.
This isn’t something that we asked for. We continue to be a victim of something.
Less than a week after Leach was fired, ESPN’s highest-rated daily TV talkshow, PARDON THE INTERRUPTION with co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, addressed the subject of Leach’s firing and his future job prospects. As part of the debate, Tony Kornheiser said:
I think he will have to convince a college president he won’t lock a kid up in a tool shed or put him in a cage.
It was arrogance and stupidity and behaving like you are above the law at all times.
He didn’t get fired for coaching.
Five months later while speaking to a church gathering in Dallas, ESPN’s Craig James stated:
My son was being treated in an unfair, unimaginable, and unthinkable manner. We filed a complaint with the university; private, hoping to quietly protect Adam to stop the insanity that was being done to him. Not once, but twice.
The lies, the accusations, the death threats, police sitting outside our home. The bounty on our lives. The insanity that comes from someone’s actions, are crazy.
Adam and my footprints, and what we’ve done in life when we hit the wall we can look around and our character, our honesty and our integrity are in place.
Now the other side of the equation, the party (Mike Leach) that’s accusing, I wonder what their beach looks like?
I have felt strongly that we have been in a spirtual war for the past four months. Our faith, our christian family has sustained us.
It’s important to lead a godly life.
Adam James suited up for his final home game as a Texas Tech Red Raider on Nov. 12, 2011, against Oklahoma State.
Before the game, James participated in Senior Day festivities with family members.
Texas Tech later lost the game 66-6 after trailing 49-0 at halftime.
His father skipped the game.
Two days before Mike Leach was fired, Dec. 29, 2009, Chris Fowler appeared on Colin Cowherd’s nationally syndicated ESPN Radio show.
(Leach’s life went up in flames thanks to claims by Fowler ‘close friend’ James )
Fowler appeared on the show to, in part, discuss complaints made about Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach by his ESPN colleague Craig James. The complaints to Texas Tech administrators about Leach were made by James on behalf of his son, Red Raider football player Adam James.Below is audio of the exchange and a transcription of the conversation.
“When you first read about the Mike Leach story, what do you think? What is your first broad thought when you read the accusations, the player, so forth.”
“I read it from a different perspective than most people because I’ve known Craig James for 20 years. He’s been a close friend and I’ve worked with him on (ESPN College) GameDay since the early ’90s, so I definitely feel for him and his family and what they’ve gone through and how tough it would be for them to notify the administration in this case.
“This is not a hot-headed guy who is going to fly off the handle at the first complaint from his son. He knows what football is, it’s a tough sport and you have to endure so I know for him to make the move that he did, and be aware of the repercussions that it would have for Leach, the program and his own son and he’s got a younger son Andy that also goes to Texas Tech and was thinking about playing football there next year so I feel for what he (Craig James) went through to make that decision.
“Everybody that’s a parent who has kids that plays sports, you get confronted with these things at one some point or another, an overzealous coach that’s my perspective. It’s kind of tough for me to step back and comment with distance because I’ve known Craig and I’ve known Adam for a long time.”
“I would imagine there was some reluctance, and I said this earlier, when you’re a public figure, you know you’re going to get beat up on a story like this. Can you tell us how long Craig considered this? Obviously this is difficult but for a public figure it’s even more difficult.”
“Well they considered it for awhile but I don’t know if he’s being hammered about this. I don’t, I mean, the sense I have is, again, it’s a pretty fresh story with the identity of Adam only being revealed publicly yesterday though it’d been whispered around.
“I think that most people feel that when it’s a head injury, and I speaking just in general terms Colin, a head injury, if you’re a coach in football these days and you don’t understand the importance of that and the need to take it seriously and the need to treat each case individually, listen to the medical experts, listen to the player, understand the long term ramifications of dealing with a guy who has a head injury you’re out of touch. I mean, you’re clueless, if you don’t understand that.
“This isn’t a sprained ankle where you’re made at the kid because he isn’t able to go, this is a head injury and I think that’s what has coaches shaking their heads. Guys you run into, and talk to the past 24 hours about this story. They don’t understand how a head injury, you can’t comprehend the seriousness of that.”
Two days after Fowler’s comments on ESPN Radio, Leach was fired by Texas Tech and remained unemployed for two years.
Craig James, meanwhile, worked the 2010 and 2011 football seasons with ESPN and is currently running for political office in Texas.
On Dec. 31, 2009, two days after Fowler’s comments were made on a nationally-syndicated ESPN outlet, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS published the following statement from Texas Tech team physician Michael Phy, dated Dec. 25:
I saw Adam James as a patient on December 17th. At that visit I diagnosed him with a mild concussion. I made recommendations regarding level of activity and treatment. These were shared with Adam and the athletic training staff and are documented in Adam’s medical record.
I was not aware of any incident until I was contacted by (Texas Tech representative) Charlotte Bingham. She provided details of a complaint, and I completed a short phone interview and answered questions for her. According to the information given to me, no additional risks or harm were imposed on Adam by what he was asked to do.
Also on Dec. 31, 2009, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS published the following, excerpted statement from Red Raider football team head trainer Steve Pincock, dated Dec. 31:
“In regard to the Adam James situation, the first building was an athletic training storage garage, two of which were adjacent to the football field.– Adam was placed in the sports medicine garage, there is no lock on this building.
“On the second occasion, practice was in the stadium, and Coach wanted Adam to be in a dark location to help his concussion and wanted him out of public view because of his poor attitude and bad work ethic.– Zack Perry, our equipment manager, suggested using the visiting team media room.– I walked Adam to the room, which was at least as big as a two-car garage.
“Inside the room there is an electrical closet.– I looked in the closet and stated that there was ‘no way that Adam would be placed in there’. I shut the door to the electrical closet, and it was never opened again.
“At no time during this practice was Adam ever placed in the electrical closet. The door to the media room was never locked, and trainers attending to Adam stated that he was sitting at times during the practice.
“Adam was never locked in any facility, and was never placed in an electrical closet or tight space, or instructed to do so.
“I received calls about both incidents from Charlotte Bingham, and was asked and answered many questions on the subject, and pictures were taken of both locations. Adam exhibited no symptoms of a concussion after the first day: no memory loss, no confusion, and no dizziness.”
Texas Tech attorney Charlotte Bingham headed the school’s investigation of the James complaint. In her report, she noted that during her interview of Adam James he indicated to her that he “stayed in (electrical) closet (for) five minutes.”
Of his punishment by Leach, Adam James stated in his own deposition that the coach’s treatment of his condition was “funny” and that, “being in the shed was not causing me any medical harm.”
While in “the shed” on Dec. 19, 2009, Adam James admitted under sworn testimony on March 13, 2010, that he shot the cellphone video of the “electrical closet” in question which he subsequently provided to the public relations firm his father had hired to assist in his handling of the Leach complaint, Spaeth Communications.
Craig James, who also called Texas Tech coaches during games he worked for ESPN in 2009 to complain about his son’s lack of playing time, then authorized Spaeth Communications to release the video publicly on Youtube with the following description:
This video was taken by Adam James, a player on the Texas Tech Red Raider football team on Saturday, December 19th, after being confined by Coach Mike Leach in an electrical closet off the Press Room at Jones AT&T Stadium. James was suffering from a concussion received during an earlier scrimmage game. James was ordered to stand in the darkness until released several hours later. James momentarily turned on a light to record his surroundings with his cell phone.
Craig James later said in his own sworn deposition on March 13, 2010, that he authorized the public release of the video, which led to innumerable airings on various nationally-televised ESPN outlets, because it “was going to help support Adam’s claim.”
It was Spaeth, which also famously derailed John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign with its “Swift Boat” attack ads, that posted the “electrical closet” video on Youtube under an anonymous pseudonym with a description that reported Adam James was “confined by Coach Mike Leach in an electrical closet” for “several hours.”
The day after ESPN first aired the Adam James video uploaded by Spaeth Communications, Leach was fired.
During an appearance on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network Wednesday, an attorney for Mike Leach provided more striking revelations about the behavior of Craig James while directly under the auspices of ESPN.
(Leach lawyer for ESPN suit: James called TT coaches from ESPN booth)
Lead Leach attorney Steve Heninger reported to Finebaum that “well before” James ever lodged a complaint to Texas Tech about Leach’s alleged mistreatment of his son, Red Raider football player Adam James, the former ESPN announcer, “was calling (Texas Tech) coaches from the booth during games and telling them to put Adam in and let him play.”
“He was calling (Texas Tech) coaches from the booth during games and telling them to put Adam in and let him play. Disrupting games. Then at night he was leaving voicemails that he was upset that Adam wasn’t … (Finebaum interrupts)”
“So Craig James from the ESPN broadcast booth was calling Texas Tech coaches? Is that correct?”
“On some occasions, that’s right. I think he called three or four games that year, that Tech had … the coaches were worried and went to Leach with the problem, (they said) ‘what do we do? This is the ESPN guy telling us that we need to be playing Adam more’
“In fact, Mike met with Adam and said, ‘we’ve got these voicemails Adam (from father Craig), do you want your teammates to hear these voicemails? To hear that your dad is calling the coaching staff trying to get you more playing time? How do you think that’s going to play with your teammates?’
“Adam asked him (Leach) not to play the tapes and he didn’t. And this was all well before the controversy about an electrical closet that never happened. That’s the backdrop of this whole thing.”
During the 2009 college football season, James worked at least three Texas Tech games for ESPN, including Tech’s Sept. 26 game against Houston, Oct. 17 game against Nebraska and Nov. 14 game against Oklahoma State. James was also originally scheduled to work ESPN’s telecast of Texas Tech’s meeting with Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl on New Year’s Eve - but was pulled off the broadcast after his complaint helped create Leach’s ouster at the school.
As reported by SbB on Jan. 16, 2010, Leach’s lawsuit against Texas Tech alleges that Craig James called then-Texas Tech Director of Football Operations Tommy McVay and then-Tech assistant coach Lincoln Riley on the same day in 2009 about his son, “stating, in effect, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing. Adam James is the best player at the wide receiver position. If you’ve got the balls to call me back, and I don’t think you do, call me back.’”
In his deposition for the Leach lawsuit against Texas Tech, Craig James testified the following on March 13, 2011:
Paul Dobrowski: Did you call (Tech assistant coach) Lincoln Riley at that time (2009)?
Craig James: Yes.
PD: What did you say?
CJ: Left a message for him to call me.
PD: What did you say on the message?
CJ: “Give me a call. I would like to talk to you.”
PD: Why did you call him?
CJ: The same reason, to find out what Adam had done, what we could do to keep him on track here and not go into the tank.
PD: And did you leave a message to the effect that, “if you have the balls and I don’t think you do, call me back?”
CJ: I may have. I may have.
PD: Well, when you say you may have, that indicates to me that that kind of rings a bell or sounds familiar.
CJ: I could have. I could have.
PD: Okay. As you sit here today, do you believe that you left that kind of a message?
CJ: I believe I could have, yes.
Later during the 2009 season in which Craig James made the complaints referred to by Heninger yesterday, the ESPN announcer accused Leach of mistreating his son after an alleged injury. That accusation led to Leach’s firing by Texas Tech.
Heninger also told Finebaum Wednesday that as soon as the Texas Supreme Court renders a verdict in Leach’s appeal for a jury trial against Texas Tech in his wrongful termination lawsuit against the school, he will pursue his defamation lawsuit against ESPN.
A lawsuit which prominently documents James’ specific, behind-the-scenes role - which included providing son Adam’s cellphone number to ESPN reporter Joe Schad - in ESPN’s on-air coverage of the coach’s ouster at Texas Tech.
Earlier this year while discussing a potential run for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, Craig James said he didn’t think his documented, prominent role in Mike Leach’s ouster at Texas Tech would affect his political aspirations.
From Glenn Hunter of D Magazine on Jan. 31, 2011,
ESPN college football analyst Craig James, who’s weighing a run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s senate seat, says his role in the firing of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach won’t hurt him politically–even in the heart of Red Raiders country.
“I feel very confident about our position,” said James. “Most people in Lubbock support my position.”
Those comments prompted an attempt by widely-published, D.C.-based pollster Stefan Hankin to verify the latter claim made by James.
On March 7, 2011, Paul Burka of Texas Monthly magazine reported that Hankin’s James-based poll consisted of, “401 likely general election 2012 voters in the West Texas metropolitan regions of Lubbock, Odessa-Midland, and Amarillo were surveyed March 2-3, 2011.”
The results, per Hankin:
“We found that Mr. James has virtually zero support in West Texas. He is, most likely due to his role in the firing of Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach, a very unpopular figure.
“While the entire region is not overly friendly territory for Craig James, the former SMU football star is especially unpopular in the Lubbock area with 52% of voters having an unfavorable opinion of Craig James and only 7% having a favorable opinion.
“If you had to pick a winner in the PR battle between Mike Leach, Craig James and the Texas Tech administration, the former football coach is the overwhelming winner.”
In the same January, 2011, D Magazine article that inspired Hankin to clinically debunk James’ claim of support in Lubbock, James said of his possible political campaign:
“I’ve got to analyze it. I’m thinking about it. I’ll announce [my decision] sooner rather than later.”
Over 11 months of analysis and thought led James to affirm his decision to run on December 19, 2011.
The same morning that James committed to vying for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, the highest-rated talk radio station in Lubbock, News Talk 790 KFYO, posted an online poll asking listeners, “Would you vote for Craig James in the GOP primary?”
And the citizens of West Texas aren’t the only ones voicing disdain over James’ germinating political campaign.
Monday Mac Engel of the FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reported:
A friend of mine who works for a senator in Austin told me a few lobbyists are already leaning on James to not run in this race. That he has no chance of defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary in the spring.
The same day as Engel’s report noting Texas lobbyists imploring James to reconsider his political candidancy, James told Fox News:
I’m out of the things I’ve enjoyed and I’m going to take that to Washington to make a change and make a difference.
With former presidential primary pollster Hankin already having verified his microscopic voter support in West Texas, and a reported growing distaste across the state for James as a political candidate, why would the former ESPN announcer jump into such a difficult race?
Perhaps because he was about to be pushed?
Multiple sources have indicated to SbB in recent days that ESPN was unlikely to retain James as an employee of the company after his contract expired in April.
While that likelihood may or may not have played into James deciding to make his first foray into politics, his decison had to have come as a relief to ESPN management, which is facing a defamation lawsuit from Leach that is largely based on the documented actions of Craig James.
It would be impossible to think that those actions by James, which were detailed in a trail of damning emails published in Leach’s Swing Your Sword autobiography earlier this year, weren’t central to what SbB has been told was a pending case that ESPN execs were preparing to make against their future employ of James.
Monday, James said on Fox News, “I’m out of the things I’ve enjoyed.”
For the past two years, Mike Leach has been saying the same - thanks to James.
In the aftermath of ESPN executives suspending Bruce Feldman for doing nothing wrong, and then lying to the national media and public about the nature of Feldman’s senseless punishment, we now have our first real world example of how the conduct by those ESPN executives has irreparably damaged Feldman’s ability to do his job in the future.
A staffer at a major college football program told me Friday that a star football player at his school, who admires Feldman’s professionalism and work ethic, was afraid to publicly support the celebrated college football journalist after his now-public mistreatment by ESPN executives.
The current NCAA student-athlete told the staffer that after learning the details from the media about ESPN’s grossly unfair treatment of Feldman during a Thursday conference call that included ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman, ESPN attorney Wendy Kemp and ESPN Executive Vice President, Production Norby Williamson, he wanted to send out a Tweet from his personal account in support of the longtime ESPN journalist.
But the student-athlete never sent out the Tweet.
The star college football player, who like ESPN THE MAGAZINE’s regular ‘Player X‘ feature shall remain nameless, told the staffer: Read more…
Thursday Bruce Feldman was suspended indefinitely by ESPN for his involvement with the new Mike Leach book, Swing Your Sword.
During a Thursday conference call that included ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman, ESPN attorney Wendy Kemp and ESPN Executive Vice President, Production Norby Williamson, Feldman was asked why he didn’t get approval from anyone at ESPN to work on the Leach book.
Feldman responded by noting that, on the contrary, he had obtained approval to collaborate on the Leach book - in writing - from ESPN Books executive Neil Fine. After Feldman informed the ESPN executives on the conference call that he had indeed observed proper company protocol, he was shamed anyway for his involvement in a project that - via public documents - portrayed ESPN in a negative light. (Documents obtained by Leach’s legal representatives.)
(Stiegman ordered Feldman to stop working during conference call)
One ESPN executive, while citing the public blowback from the book, threatened Feldman during the Thursday conference call: “We dont know how this will affect your future here.”
Before the call ended, Feldman was told by ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Stiegman that he was to stop working for the company until further notice: “Do not do any work until we tell you to. No tweeting, and no chats.”
Following the news on Thursday that Feldman had been suspended indefinitely by ESPN, a torrential outpouring of support for the writer ensued on social networking sites, with #freebruce and “Bruce Feldman” soon trending on Twitter and Facebook immediately featuring a “Free Bruce Feldman” support group.
In response to the profound, public backlash from its decision to suspended Feldman indefinitely, Friday afternoon ESPN released the following statement pertaining to Feldman’s status at the company:
“There was never any suspension or any other form of disciplinary action. We took the time to review his upcoming work assignments in light of the book to which he contributed and will manage any conflicts or other issues as needed. Bruce has resumed his assignments.”
Though ESPN claimed Feldman was never suspended, the network did not say why the college football writer would then need to - as noted in the ESPN statement - ‘resume his assignments.’
After the statement was released, ESPN Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications Chris LaPlaca sent out the following Tweet:
Love Twitter, but we’ve all just seen its danger: rumor presented as fact. Feldman never suspended.
To give LaPlaca a chance to confirm his personal contention that Feldman was “never suspended” by ESPN, I Tweeted the following, repeated inquiry to LaPlaca on Friday afternoon: “Did Pat Stiegman tell Bruce to stop working? Yes or no?”
LaPlaca refused to answer the question. Though he later Tweeted:
Sports analogy: coaches take time outs 2 discuss developments. The game briefly stops but is not suspended. It resumes. Same thing here.
Because, despite repeated inquiries, ESPN’s LaPlaca refused to clarify his contention that Feldman was “never suspended” by the company, it is impossible to conclude that ESPN and LaPlaca aren’t doing anything other than obfuscating the truth of the matter.
During the interview, Rose asked Leach about the recent decision by ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, and ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman to suspend ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman for his involvement with the the coach’s book.