Trying to get Craig James off your TV

Dear United States of Football America,

You’re welcome. And I hope you are appropriately thankful for this sacrifice.

My fellow Texans and I are taking yet another one for the team, this time staring down the prospect of being governed by expert blowhard Craig James so you do not have to turn down the volume on Thursday night football broadcasts. We already handled LeBron James and his narcissistic Dream Team, gave the World Series its single-best game in forever at great personal price and basically rendered The Longhorn Network impotent by not subscribing.

Risking even a minuscule chance of Sen. Craig James, though, takes real cojones.

Craig James officially became a Republican candidate for the US Senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchinson on Monday. This serves two purposes of the greater college football good as far as I can tell:

1. Removing him from ESPN college football broadcasts immediately.1

2. Rendering him toxic and thereby untouchable for another network if he runs and loses.

That is a crazy big "if", for anybody sitting where I am — in James’ prospective district in Texas. I admit my first reaction upon hearing Craig James wanted to be my senator was hahahahaha. This seemed very much like one of those political rumors drudged up for the sheer entertainment value. Thursdays in football season were giggle gold as The Twitterverse went all scorched-earth policy on James. (Go to Google. Type in Craig James. An Internet prankster has tricked it up so one of Google’s first suggestions in the search box dropdown menu is "killed 5 hookers."). It stopped being funny once I realized his campaign was likely.

Oh, good God, James really is not kidding.

I do not like him on my random Thursday game. I certainly do not want his hand on my bank account, my body, my property. This is my general political philosophy2 but especially so with Craig James.

He’s running, though. He has a website — www.TexansForABetterAmerica.org — and everything. The site is frightening for how geniusly cheesy it is. Every political trope imaginable — flags, flags, veterans, flags — has been trotted out as a strangely NFL Films-sounding voice reminds us “Craig James is a living example of the importance of economic freedom.”

Anybody arguing James is qualified to be a politician is either a) unfamiliar with James or b) does not understand politics in Texas. As the indomitable journalist Molly Ivins noted in an article about my great state for The Nation in 1993, "the politics are probably the weirdest thing about Texas. . . . The fact is, it’s a damned peculiar place. Given all of the horse(bleep), there’s bound to be a pony in here somewhere. Just by trying to be honest about it, one accidentally underlines its sheer strangeness."

I guess I, too, should try to stand up for us and convince the rest of the country we’re not insane. Or maybe we are, but we are not Craig James insane. He is great in front of a camera, has a pretty face, says nothing no matter how many words come shooting from his mouth and he knows how to win at any cost, without regard to collateral damage.

Just ask new Washington State coach Mike Leach.

How James handled this affair is not Texan at all. We tend to take things outside, fight our own battles, have the common courtesy not to use words we can’t say in front of our mommas. People always ask what I do not like about Craig James. I claim no original thought on this matter. No personal breakdown of communication ever happened between us. My reasons mirror that of most of the football-watching country, namely:

1. He hired a PR firm to get Leach fired at Texas Tech. He leaked half-truths to his place of employment (ESPN) and allowed them to run with them without consequence.

2. He voted Boise State 23rd on his last AP poll ballot this season because he does not respect their program, or he is not paying attention, or he does not know the game. None of those is an acceptable answer.

3. He is not even slightly entertaining during a broadcast. Sports are filled with all kinds of miscreants and malcontents, jerk holes and screwups. We forgive them and ask only that they be talented. James cannot even do this well.

4. He pretends to have been squeaky clean during The Pony Excess days at SMU. It drives me crazy. It is laughable to pretend Eric Dickerson and everybody except James was getting paid. Yet he so wants to believe his created image that he pretends he was clean despite eye-rolling from many Mustangs. And herein lies the beauty of James.

In this time of harsh political discourse, of red vs. blue and liberal vs. conservative, Craig James reaches across the aisle to bring us all together. There is and will remain bipartisan support for a Craig James-less college football broadcast and, really, the sports landscape in general.

No, this is not about Tea Partying or Occupying Anything. This is not about gun control, illegal aliens or what constitutes a fair level of taxation. This is about Red Raiders, Aggies, Longhorns and Frogs. This is about Broncos and Wolverines, Trojans and Gators. What I am hoping is people learn you cannot win Texas if you do not have the college football fan vote. If I am right, we all win.

If I am wrong, well, college football’s gain is Texas’ loss.

Love. And you’re welcome.

Jen


1 Well, I say that. Who knows? Many believed hiring a PR firm with a Swiftboat track record to get a coach fired for not playing your son was grounds for dismissal.

2 Trying to come up with a list of possible opponents who would make me vote for Craig James yielded only a couple of controversial world leaders and possibly cast members of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." That is all I have so far.

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