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James Brown Expresses ‘Gifts Are Not Unique to Any Particular Gender. Excellence Runs Across the Spectrum’

James Brown, host of the NFL Today on CBS and a record 11 Super Bowl pregame shows, won the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award at the 45th Annual Sports Emmy Award in New York.

“James is a world-class talent who has had a profound impact on sports media,” said Adam Sharp, President, NATAS. “From his Super Bowl and championship game coverage to his work on CBS Sports’ THE NFL TODAY, INSIDE THE NFL, and as a correspondent for CBS News, he has been a significant influence and a consistent presence in sports broadcasting. It is with great pleasure that we honor ‘JB’ with this Lifetime Achievement Award.”

“‘JB’’s career as host of some of the most iconic sports studio shows is unparalleled,” said Stephen Head, Head of Sports Emmy Awards. “His authentic and distinctive style continues to raise the bar in sportscasting. We are proud to honor James Brown for his lasting legacy of excellence in the world of sports programming.”

Brown is a three-time Emmy Award-winner, best known as host of pregame shows including CBS Sports’ THE NFL TODAY, NFL ON FOX and INSIDE THE NFL. 

Brown has hosted the Super Bowl a record-setting 11 times and also served as a special correspondent for CBS News on such programs as 60 MINUTES and CBS EVENING NEWS. His broadcast career spans more than 30 years and includes numerous accolades such as the “2016 Pete Rozelle Award” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the “Uncommon Award” from Tony Dungy. He was named “Best Studio Host of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated in 2010 and was honored with the 2009 Dick Schaap Memorial Award for Media Excellence. In 1998 he was awarded the Golden Mic Award by the Black Broadcasters Alliance. Brown was elected into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2021. 

During Brown’s speech expressed how grateful he was for the award, the people who supported him the most throughout his career and how his religious beliefs keep him grounded.

“I’ve always had a free agent mentality; it was never a guaranteed contract, so I give it my best each and every time out. I was asking how I could even qualify for this recognition when at least in my mind again I’m only at the midpoint of my career but when I looked at the Charlie Bloom produced video and the number and variety of events that I’ve been blessed to cover, certainly the people with whom I’ve worked [with]. The hairline I used to have and my desperate pursuit for a six-pack that is still hidden under this enormous one pack here. I guess I have in fact been at this already for quite some time but I’m crystal clear this award is absolutely not about me but the legions of people who have poured into me. I love all of my colleagues at CBS they’re awesome people and they know I mean this from the bottom my heart.

“I think about the people who have invested in me, starting first with my mother and father. My father was a prison guard at a local prison and my mother, we called her the sergeant because she was no nonsense. We didn’t call her that to her face, but we did call her the sergeant. She was an excellent homemaker that always desire. They were high school graduates who I like to say, ‘had PhDs in drive and determination’ and who modeled for us what perseverance and perspiration could indeed accomplish for anyone. I truly wish they could be here tonight to see this the reason.”

“I know this is not about me is because I truly I look at Chris Collinsworth and so many others and I’m not going to look you in the face because I promise I wouldn’t cry. I’ve truly worked with some exceptional talent and my focus has always been to ensure talent and insight was showcased setting others up for success. It is a principle, and I am unashamed in saying I root any principles. If you will, Philippians 2 and 3 says, ‘In loneliness in mind, esteem others more highly than yourself.’ In the world of team sports, there’s no question that success is all about team, the many members who make up the team. Studio shows are just like that. For me, that point is emphasize in the scripture found in Ephesians 4:16 in which the example of the human body is used stating it is made up of many different members, many different parts and every part contributes to the fervent effectual working of the whole body. Even though I see myself as the little finger in any operation, I know I still need to function at my best in order for the entire body to be at its best. I can only hope, Joe Buck, that I’ve accomplished a little bit of that at times.

“While I am indeed more than humbled to be honored tonight, I know the real honor indeed goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m unabashed, I don’t try to beat people over the head with the Bible, I just try to model what I know are truths for me because in Psalm 756 and 7, it says, ‘Promotion doesn’t come from the East nor the West nor the South. God is truly the judge. He puts down one and he sets up another.’ He has blessed me tonight to have my daughter here, Katrina Walker, even though she was most excited about meeting Scott Van Pelt, Mina Kimes and Kimberly Martin more than even me. At least I know I get to share this award with my incredible wife Dorothy, the heart of our family, and whose unwavering support and boundless love inspires me every day. In this room with a lot of testosterone, if you think in fact, I’m a well-trained husband. I am and I’m good with that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

After his win, Brown spoke to The Koalition to further express his joy, reflect on his long-standing career and advice for the next generation of sports broadcasters.

“It’s humbling and I know I’ve overworked that word but it’s true. It goes back to advice I got from my mother and father first when I talked about perspiration and determination being the keys to success. There may be others who are smarter but don’t let them outwork. In terms of the business, one of my early producers said to do as many sports as you can so folks won’t marginalize you into a small window of what you can do. That certainly paid dividends because I also wanted to do news and I get a chance to do that now.

“The greatest improvement I’ve seen throughout the years in the industry is the fact it’s become much more inclusive. I’m very selected with my commentaries, but to see the number of talented women who are in the business now, just goes to show you, gifts are not unique to any particular gender. Excellence runs across the spectrum.”

To learn more about James Brown, check out our full interview in the video above.

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