Greg Gumbel and James Brown Discuss Kaepernick and Free Speech

On Tuesday, The Shadow League was “All the Way Up” in Studio 19 at CBS Headquarters in Manhattan to meet with some of the network’s analysts and hear about the network’s NFL coverage changes.  

The Colin Kaepernick protest reverberations continue to power a great deal of the news cycle.  As such, it was only apropos that I get the opinion of veteran broadcaster and TV journalist James Brown, a brother with over 30 years in the business whose former college roommate at Harvard was Cornel West.

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(Photo Credit: CBS Sports)

JB: “This morning, I was blessed enough to have had an interview with Roger Goodell, our producers and staff, and that’s the exact question I asked him.  His answer was [Colin Kaepernick] has a right to do that.  He doesn’t necessarily agree but that is his right to do so.

I asked him specifically ‘What about the platform that is being used?  And he said ‘People may not agree with the platform, I may not agree with the platform, but that is his right.’ And I guess I pull back big picture and look at all of society’s movers and shakers at large, and I believe I’m gleaning from them correctly, no place is the right place. Somebody is going to object to it.  But you know what?  But there’s also the old saying, ‘There’s no progress without protest.'” 

Greg Gumbel has been in the television business for 43 years and is a giant in the game. Like, Brown, Gumbel played coy on the subject of Kaepernick’s First Amendment Rights, but he revealed something of himself as well. 

GG: “A lot of the problems that exist today is people who feel compelled to tell everybody how they feel.  How they feel about themselves, how they feel about this, how they feel about that, and everything else.  I have no such compunction. I have my own thoughts and my own ideas, and I keep them to myself.  That doesn’t mean that they’re right or that they’re wrong, but that’s just how I feel.”   

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“I was joking with Jamie Erdahl, our sideline reporter, and I can’t believe how many people get in trouble on Twitter because they just feel compelled to say whatever comes to their mind. Where’s the filter? I’m not on Twitter.  Here’s my idea of Twitter ‘Send, apologize and delete’. That’s basically what happens to a lot of people.  You sit back and you read this and say ‘Why can’t people just keep their mouths shut?’  By the way, I mean that for people from all walks of life.” 

As the debate for First Amendment Rights continues played out in the media, journalists must guard against losing their edge to their own emotions and opinions.  Gumbel and Brown are demonstrated experts in conversation as well as legendary journalists.  Stay tuned for to The Shadow League when we bring you our continued coverage of one-on-one discussions with some the best minds in the business of sports journalism.

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