Here’s a different angle in the continuing run of sackings and suspensions over on-air comments made by sports personalities. Former NFL running back Craig James is suing Fox Sports over his firing by the network two years ago, claiming religious discrimination. In a lawsuit filed today in Dallas County, James — who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012 — claims he was fired days after joining the company because of his opposition to gay marriage. He is seeking a jury trial on his claims that Fox Sports breached its contract with him and violated state law.
James, who starred in college at Southern Methodist University in a backfield that included future NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, had worked as a college football analyst at rival ESPN for years before leaving to pursue his political career. He joined Fox Sports in 2013 after losing the Senate race to Ted Cruz, only to be let go from Fox Sports Southwest less than a week later after one on-air appearance. While on the campaign trail, James repeatedly said he was against same-sex marriage and that being gay is a choice. According to the Dallas Morning News, the lawsuit reads in part: “Fox Sports fired Craig James because of his religious beliefs about marriage and his expression of those beliefs during a debate when James ran in the Texas Republican primary for United States Senator.”
In a statement to the Morning News, Fox Networks Group SVP Communications said: “As we have previously stated, Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda. The decision had nothing to do with Mr. James’ religious beliefs and we did not discriminate against Mr. James in any way. The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them.”
Stay tuned — this one could get good.