Tournaments : : Story
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bo Jackson knows business these days

Jim Ecker        
JUPITER, Fla. -- Bo Jackson still looks like he could crush a baseball 450 feet or knock a linebacker on his butt and race for another touchdown, but Jackson is an accomplished businessman these days. Yes, Bo knows business.
 
Jackson is 46 now, far removed from his remarkable two-sports career that was cut short by a hip injury, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner who became an all-star in the National Football League and Major League Baseball, the only man in history to become an all-star in those two sports.
 
Jackson is the owner of Bo Jackson Elite Sports, a training facility in Lockport, Ill., in the Chicago suburbs, but that's just one of his business interests. He was one of the founders and the namesake for the Bo Jackson 5-Tool Championship that was held Saturday night at Roger Dean Stadium, an event that gave some of the top amateur baseball players in the world a chance to showcase their skills.
 
Jackson was one of the best 5-tool players in history, with a rare ability to hit, hit with power, run, field and throw. He was featured in a series of popular "Bo Knows" commercials with Nike in the 1980s and 1990s and is still associated with the giant sporting goods company.
 
His pride and joy these days is Bo Jackson Elite Sports.
 
"Our facility has been open for a little over a year in Chicago," he said. "And the thing about it, training for our summer league sports is during the winter. So we decided to bring summer inside for the winter and build a 90,000-square foot indoor facility with two baseball infields, a soccer field, a strength and conditioning area, 12 batting cages and six pitchers mounds. And we put it to good use during the winter."
 
Jackson said his Elite Sports enterprise could be expanding to other parts of the United States. One of his partners is John Cangelosi, a former major league player who runs Cangelosi Baseball in Illinois.
 
"We are in talks right now with at least five or six different cities around the country, from Florida up north," said Jackson. "Everybody has a need for it, because in some areas it's too hot, and in some areas it's too cold. So everybody wants to get in a comfortable environment to work out."
 
Jackson served as the host and one of the judges for the Bo Jackson 5-Tool Championship.
 
"This is fun," he said after the event. "I could never be a coach. I don't think I have the patience."
 
Bo knows business, not coaching.
 
"I'm a mover and shaker,' he said. "I can't sit still too long. I'm involved in other business ventures in Chicago. I'm a part-owner of a bank, and I've got other business ventures out there. Besides that, I'm putting three kids through college and trying to stay out of trouble."
 
Jackson was impressed with the talented players in the 5-Tool Championship, but said none of them reminded him of himself. "No," he said, laughing, "they weren't tripping over themselves."
 
"You've got a lot of talent out there," he said. "Them being successful is not only how they carry themselves on the field, but off the field, too."
 
Jackson proclaimed the first Bo Jackson 5-Tool Championship a success, but said the four-hour event "was a little long."
 
"This is the first one. This actually gives us a mark to come back next year and do things a little bit better than we did this year," he said. "Just from the standpoint of giving these kids some exposure that they probably would never get, it's good."
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