“Bruce, I had hair and a mustache!”
CBS Sports anchor James “JB” Brown laughed and got a little nostalgic after watching a mid-1980s video that used to run at the beginning of WUSA9’s newscasts, which back then was called WDVM.
“You’re still looking great,” Bruce Johnson assured him. The two used to work together at News9 back in the day. Now, Bruce was interviewing JB for his Channel 9 show, ‘Off Script with Bruce Johnson.’
WUSA9 & D.C. roots: "I'm a homebody."
Stopping by Channel 9 Wednesday was a bit of a homecoming for the network anchor, who normally greets millions of NFL fans on CBS.
He enthusiastically hugged WUSA9 General Manager Richard Dyer and held hands with Special Projects Executive Producer Samara Martin-Ewing, both of whom worked with JB in the mid-80s.
Brown joined News9 in 1983 after going for an opening at the station he wasn’t sure he’d get.
“It’s worked out well,” he said with a smile.
After spending a few years at WUSA9, JB left for the big leagues. He now splits his time between various sports and reporting gigs, mostly with CBS.
During the football season, he spends four to five days on the road every week, but “My orbit is still here in Washington, D.C.,” he told Bruce.
JB’s face lit up when talking about his four grandchildren—three girls and a boy. He still lives in the D.C. area with his wife Dorothy, whom he met at Dyer’s wedding.
On Patrick Ewing’s new job: “I think it’s only appropriate.”
Earlier in the week, D.C.’s Georgetown University announced star alumnus Patrick Ewing would return to the school as the new men’s head basketball coach.
JB covered Ewing during his time in the NBA and said he’s “extremely happy” for Ewing to return to the Hoyas.
“I pray that he’ll be successful,” Brown said.
But as to why he never landed the head coaching position in the pros after spending 15 years as an assistant: “That’s the question, and I don’t have the answer to that,” he added. “But how fitting that GU, where he enjoy his greatest success—they enjoyed their greatest success—I think it’s only appropriate.”
On Tony Romo’s Retirement: "I thought he would still have the passion.”
JB has a new colleague on the CBS Sports team—former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Just days before Brown sat down with Bruce for the Off Script interview, Romo announced he was retiring from football and joining CBS as the lead NFL analyst for the network.
“He’s walking into a prime position. He’s got the ability to do it, but it is not easy,” JB warned. “There’s an awful lot of learning, as I learned with you guys back in the day.”
JB said he’s surprised Romo retired so soon and thought he still has some “utility” left in him.
On his passion for broadcast: “I’m hoping that I’m delivering passion.”
Brown didn’t always envision himself reporting on TV. In high school and college, he wanted to be on the highlights, not covering them.
JB was a star basketball player at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md. He wanted to continue to Princeton, but a letter from Harvard came first.
However, a trip to the pros wasn’t in the works.
“I lost track of how important it was to work as hard to stay on top as one did to get to the top,” JB told Bruce. “I got complacent, rested on my laurels, and Bruce, from a lifetime work ethic standpoint, I said I would never allow an opportunity to pass me by that I didn’t work hard for.”
Now, he keeps a “free agent’s mentality” by staying busy.
“I don’t count on anything being guaranteed, other than my ability to deliver,” JB said.
Brown said retirement is in the vocabulary, but for now he’s passionate about what he does, and he loves it.
“I’m hoping that I’m delivering passion and excellence at what I’m doing at a wide range of things because that’s what fuels my excitement. I learned that from Glenn Brenner and you guys at Channel 9,” JB said, referring to the legendary D.C. sports anchor who worked at WUSA9 from 1977 to 1991.
JB ended his interview with Bruce the way it started—laughs and a throwback.
“Wow! You didn’t keep me up under the searing spotlight,” he said to Bruce, both of them laughing. “Because I know you can conduct some tough interviews buddy, as most mayors in Washington have found out, right?!”