Jean Schloss Fugett Jr. Esq.; athlete, journalist, speaker, attorney, and businessman; was born in Baltimore, MD. After graduating from Cardinal Gibbons High School, where he was the first African American to win Baltimore Catholic Athlete of the Year, Fugett attended Amherst College. At Amherst, Fugett was a star on and off the field. He was a two sport All-American athlete who was coached by College Football Hall of Famer Jim Ostendarp.
Off the field, Fugett was Executive Editor of the Amherst Student weekly newspaper. After graduating from Amherst with honors, Fugett was admitted to Columbia Law School. Fugett was also on the waiting list at Harvard Law School where his brother, Reginald F. Lewis, had attended. While Lewis worked to get his brother off the waiting list, Fugett went to training camp with the World Champion Dallas Cowboys.
Fugett, having been drafted with the last pick of the 13th round, learned the playbook in two days, and to his own surprise, made the team. Fugett would be coached by NFL Hall of Famer Tom Landry who believed that if you were an athlete and knew where to line up, he could teach you how to play football. At the end of his fourth and final season with the Cowboys, Fugett started in Super bowl X. Still wanting to become a lawyer, and with limited options for night school in Dallas, Fugett signed with the Washington Redskins as one of the first modern day free agents.
Fugett went from being the lowest paid starting tight end to the highest paid. Fugett was also able to be a reporter for The Washington Post in the off season. Later, Fugett would appear on CBS affiliate Ch. 9 as a weekend anchor and with Frank Herzog on the show Redskins Sidelines. Fugett would complete law school by attending George Washington Univ. at night. His playing days complete, Fugett would continue to work for The Washington Post and eventually would end up in the television booth as a color commentator with Dan Dierdorf for the NFL on CBS.
Fugett also helped his brother Reginald F. Lewis found TLC Group in 1983.
There first major deal was the purchase of the McCall Pattern Company, a home sewing pattern business for $22.5 million. Lewis had learned from a Fortune magazine article that the Esmark holding company, which had recently purchased Norton Simon, planned to divest from the McCall Pattern Company, a maker of home sewing patterns founded in 1870. With fewer and fewer people sewing at home, McCall was seemingly on the decline—though it had posted profits of $6 million in 1983 on sales of $51.9 million. At the time, McCall was number two in its industry, holding 29.7 percent of the market, compared to industry leader Simplicity Patterns with 39.4 percent.
They managed to negotiate the price down and then raised $1 million himself from family and friends and borrowed the rest from institutional investors and investment banking firm First Boston Corp.
Within one year, he turned the company around by freeing up capital tied in fixed assets such as building and machinery, finding a new use for machinery during downtime by manufacturing greeting cards, and he then started to recruit managers from rival companies. He further strengthened McCall by containing costs, improving quality, beginning to export to China, and emphasizing new product introductions. This new combination led to the company’s most profitable year in its history. With the addition of McCall real estate worth an estimated $6 million that the company retained ownership of, he later sold McCall at a 90-1 return, resulting in a tremendous profit for investors. Lewis’s share was 81.7 percent of the $90 million.
Jean Fugett served as Director and Vice-Chair of the McCall Pattern Company Management Committee, as founding partner of a Baltimore law firm, and as a partner with Fanfone in Europe. After the death of his brother in 1993, Fugett took over TLC Beatrice International Foods, the largest black-owned and black managed business in the world at the time. At its peak, TLC Beatrice had $2.2 billion in sales and was number 512 on Fortune magazine’s list of 1,000 largest.
A sought after motivational speaker, who is also diabetic, Fugett has served as President of the Retired Players Steering Committee of the NFL Players Association, as legal counsel and advisor to a variety of businesses and not for profits, and on the Leadership Council for the American Diabetes Association Maryland Chapter. Fugett serves as Chancellor for the Maryland Chapter of the Son’s of the American Revolution. Fugett also recently launched his national law practice Fugett & Associates headquartered in Baltimore, MD. The firm has associated Attorney’s in DC, Atlanta, Texas, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Fugett currently is a Managing Director of Axum Capital Partners, a Charlotte, NC based Private Equity firm. He is also working on his memoirs, appearing as a regular guest on The Jerry Coleman Show on Baltimore Fox Sports 1370AM and working with his son as a founding member of TLC JR, LLC and The Athlete Sports Network.