Though often seen on ESPN as a college football commentator, Craig James was in Austin in person on Monday to speak with students about becoming better citizens and getting more involved in civic duties.
James, a former professional football player, was in town on behalf of the “Keep Texas Awesome” program, an organization that informs people “why Texas is No. 1, and how to keep it that way,” as described on the organization’s Facebook page.
The former pro-bowl running back and member of the esteemed “Pony Express” at Southern Methodist University, spoke at Austin’s Pizza on the Drag in collaboration with the program to encourage students to “get off the sidelines and into the game.”
“I’ve got a passion and a strong belief that all Americans need to get involved in our country,” James said. “I have a real passion for going after younger Americans. I feel like this generation can be the next great generation.”
Students in attendance participated in interactive polls while James talked about the state of Texas and how to keep it “one of the most successful states in the union.”
Participants were able to text in questions to James as well as vote in real time polls with questions ranging from “What is our country’s biggest problem?” to “How many Facebook friends do you have?”
Although James is a registered Republican, he isn’t pushing any particular political agenda.
“[There are] too many politicians and not enough Americans right now,” James said.
While telling stories about his own economic explorations, including a used car business he began when he was 20 years old, James emphasized the success of Texas’ economy.
“With 51 Fortune 500 companies, Texas is tied with California in terms of economic growth,” James said. “In a day, 15,000 people move to Texas. They come to find an opportunity.”
James also talked about his love for the constitution.
“It’s a playbook for the entire country,” James said. “Government isn’t available to protect us from ourselves, it’s there to protect us from each other. We can’t just sit on the sidelines and not be involved. I’m not pushing Republican; I’m not pushing Democrat. I don’t have an agenda. I’m pushing people to get involved.”
James also gave his two cents on the state of Longhorn football.
“[Texas] signs 5-star recruits every year. It’s Mack Brown and the coaching staff’s job to get that player beyond his 5-star [ranking]. They no longer have Colt McCoy, a quarterback who could create great opportunities with his legs.” James said. “There is no one individual at fault [for the season], but it’s a collective failure. I believe this will be a humbling experience for the University of Texas and that, eventually, they will regain their national prominence.”