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Bo Knows Charity


Q: Tell me a little bit about the Give Me A Chance Foundation?

Jackson:"To make a long story short, about six years ago, me and former Major League Baseball player John Cangelosi and a couple more partners went into business and we built an indoor training facility; a practice facility here in the Midwest which is called Bo Jackson's Elite Sports. The thing with summer sports here in the Midwest, throughout the Midwest and up North, is that those summer sports are dormant during the winter months here. You can't get outside to practice and the practice that you do, you can't get adequate practice. They are restricted by ceiling heights or they are restricted by columns in the middle of the practice floor where they have to work out or take grounders or anything. We developed an air-supported structure and under that air-supported structure we have 88,000 square feet of space. We have two regulation baseball fields, infields underneath there. We have a 75-yard soccer field. We have twelve batting cages. We have six pitchers mounds. We have about 6,000 square feet of strength and conditioning area. We have classrooms. We have offices and so forth throughout this building.

Q: So why did you decide that this was an initiative that you wanted to take up; why was this something that was important to you and hit close to home?

Jackson:"Well, I live out in the suburbs and once this thing was built, people came out of the woodwork wanting to sign up their kids, because they need practice time, because what we found out is that kids in the Midwest when spring comes around and it's time to play games, these kids are so far behind because they've been restricted by the cold weather and by the ice and snow in the Midwest. They are just too far behind the kids that live down south that play baseball year round. The suburban kids here could come here and they usually have both parents at home, and I saw the initiative with Major League Baseball. They did an article about four or five or six years ago, talking about the demise of the black baseball player. I decided to set up my foundation to work specifically on that category. I tapped into the inner-city kids to get inner-city kids back in baseball through education. What I mean by that is that my foundation, if you are selected to attend, to be one of the kids that my foundation supports, during the winter months you get up to six weeks of practice, training, facility time at the sports complex."


Q: What do you hope the kids get out of your program?**

Jackson: "What we're doing, we are giving inner-city youth the opportunity to get out of that concrete jungle, teach them how to play baseball, teach them how to play organized sports, period, and all in the same breath, we're teaching them life lessons. The big thing with me, you can never understand the life lessons if you don't understand that you have to be successful in the classroom first. Before you can become a successful athlete, you have to be a successful student, and if you can't do that, you can't be a part of our program. We have free tutoring set up for all these kids through the foundation and trust me, it has been very successful and very well accepted by the parents there because 95 to 98 percent of these parents are single parents, and they're usually mothers and they're dealing with these kids by themselves. In order to be a part of Bo Jackson's Give Me A Chance Foundation, you have to be a superstar in the classroom first, or you have to work at being a superstar in the classroom first."

Q: I know another project you've been working on too is Bo Bikes Bama. How has that been going?

Jackson:"Bo Bikes Bama is a foundation that I set up through the state of Alabama after the devastating tornadoes that went through the state in 2011. I was thinking of ways that I could give back, that I could personally give back, because the state supports me in everything that I do. I thought about golfing and everybody does a golf outing, and only a certain number of people can play, but then I thought, let's do a bike ride. Everybody knows how to ride a bike and what we've done, we've just completed our third year of Bo Bikes Bama, and we raised right at $1 million and all of those funds go directly into the Alabama Governor's Disaster Relief Forum and what those funds are used for is to help people get back into their homes, but mainly those funds are used to build community tornado shelters throughout the state."

Q: I know you have an exciting event coming up with the Raiders, so can you tell us a little about that?

Jackson:"I teamed up with Chris Doleman, Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, and we teamed up with his group called Dolemanity. What we've done is we've come up with this idea to where both foundations can benefit from it, which is to offer one lucky winner a weekend with Bo Jackson, the weekend of the Raiders/49ers football game. What that will include depends on the amount donated to the cause because 100 percent of these funds will be split and divided between both charities. Both charities are funding children that are in need. Now, the weekend includes, just like I said, the minimum amount that you can donate to the cause is if I'm not mistaken, $10, and you can go as high as you want, but I can say that the more funds you donate, the better your chances are of spending Saturday afternoon with me playing golf, if you're a golfer. You don't have to be a golfer. You can just ride around in the golf cart with me, but I am in the process of setting up golf at a private golf course, at a private country club there in the Bay Area on Saturday morning then having lunch afterwards and then the next day on Sunday, spending the day with me. It will start off by us meeting at the stadium and then they will accompany me on the sidelines during warmups to just get a once in a lifetime experience that everybody wishes that they could have. Once that's over, we'll go sit up in the stands and enjoy the football game."

Q: A lot of people around the facility are really excited about rookie quarterback Derek Carr. Have you been able to see any of him and do you have any impressions of what he can bring to the table?

Jackson:"This kid can be the next Russell Wilson. I've heard people comment on him, about his talent level and the things that he brings to the table. It seems like this kid has his head on right. If he does what he's supposed to than he can be a leader. If he can be the leader, the Raiders can get back to the winning form that they've had."


Q: The team is headed up to Seattle this weekend and you had two of your more iconic plays up in Seattle, running over Brian Bosworth and then the 91-yard touchdown run where you ended up running into the tunnel. What do you remember about those games and those plays in particular?**

Jackson:"Seattle has been very, very good to me [laughing]. I just know that I was very successful back in my days when I played against Seattle. Not trying to say anything bad about the players from Seattle or anything like that, I just know that whenever I played up there, whether it be baseball or football, for some reason I have always been successful in that old Seatac Dome. I loved going there.

Q: You're still one of the more revered Raiders figures, do you have a moment from your time wearing the Silver and Black that has really stuck with you throughout the years or maybe something that you look back on fondly?

Jackson:"I actually look back on everything because I only played for four years there, but I had fun. We had a very eccentric bunch of guys that we played with. We had a bunch of guys that I played with starting from Howie Long to Marcus Allen, to Jay Schroeder, Steve Beuerlein, Greg Townsend, Matt Millen and guys like that. Eddie Anderson, Mervyn Fernandez, Willie Gault… We just had fun playing football when we were there."

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