In 2013, former NFL running back Craig James (below) was fired from his job as an analyst on Fox Sports Southwest after only one appearance on air.
The official reason was that he was just “not a good fit” at the network and a “polarizing figure in the college sports community.”
But Craig insisted he was fired because, during his 2012 campaign for Senate (from Texas), he told a crowd that he opposed marriage equality and believed that homosexuality was a choice.
During a debate that involved Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Ted Cruz, James said that being gay is a choice and that “right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade.”
Considering that a network executive said that he and his colleagues questioned “how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department” and that “He couldn’t say those things here,” there was reason to believe James had a point. His firing seemed to be linked directly to his religious views, even though the two worlds never overlapped. If that’s the case, was he fired for legal reasons?
A judge will now have to make that decision. James filed a lawsuit against his former employer this morning:
“This is very troubling as an employee when your boss holds against you something you said about your belief system nearly 18 months before you were recruited and hired,” James told Breitbart Sports. “I said nothing about my belief system on the air at Fox Sports. So, the fact that they reached back in my past nearly eighteen months and responded to a comment about my biblical belief in natural marriage as a candidate — that’s troubling.”
I have to admit I find that troubling, too. As Terry wrote on this site in 2013, while I find James’ views personally despicable, it’s not like he was promoting those beliefs on air (or would have, anyway, given the opportunity). He was hired to talk about college football, not abortion or homosexuality or the Supreme Court. And even if he voiced his opinions when talking about, say, a gay football player, why would that be a firing offense?
When ESPN’s Chris Broussard made anti-gay comments in 2013 just after NBA player Jason Collins came out, the network didn’t punish their reporter but publicly voiced their support of Collins. That was the right move.
Firing someone for his personal beliefs? Unless he was proselytizing to gay colleagues and telling them they’re going to hell, creating an uncomfortable workplace environment, I don’t understand it.
You can read the lawsuit here.
Fox Sports hasn’t issued any official statements yet, but they will have to respond to the allegations in court. For now, this is just adding fuel to the fire for all those Christian Persecution stories.
***Update***: Just want to include this: On a radio show last year, James (who works for the Family Research Council) responded to a caller who suggested gay people should be executed with a pathetic, “I don’t know about the executing”:
That’s how James shows love for LGBT people: He’s not sure they should be killed.
(Image via Twitter. Thanks to Jessica for the link)