JEAN FUGETT: FROM NFL TIGHT END TO CEO, was A Baltimore Catholic school product who had a lasting impact on SPORTS AND BUSINESS

JEAN FUGETT: FROM NFL TIGHT END TO CEO, was A Baltimore Catholic school product who had a lasting impact on SPORTS AND BUSINESS

The Baltimore Catholic League is celebrating its 50th tournament this week. In order to appreciate where it’s been and where it’s going, here’s the Catholic Review’s look at the 15 players who came out of a Catholic high school in Baltimore and had the most-lasting impact on the game. And one of the individuals to attend the school was, Jean Schloss Fugett, Jr.

Jean Schloss Fugett, Jr. (born December 16, 1951) is a former American football tight end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. He played college football at Amherst College.

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Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he skipped two grades as a youngster. He attended Cardinal Gibbons School, where he started playing football as a senior, becoming a two-way player (tight end and defensive end). He graduated in 1968 and was named the Baltimore Catholic Athlete of the Year, the first black athlete to be given the award.

Fugett accepted an academic scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts, because he wanted to go to a school where he could play both basketball and football. As a senior in 1971, he led the team in receiving and scoring with 39 receptions for 635 yards and 9 touchdowns, while earning Little All-American honors.

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

Fugett was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the thirteenth round (338th overall) of the 1972 NFL Draft. The Cowboys carried only two tight ends on the roster in those years, but saw potential in the 20-year-old rookie and made an exception by adding him as the third one. As a rookie, he was the backup behind future hall of famer Mike Ditka, after passing an injured Billy Truax on the depth chart. He was used mostly on passing downs and finished with 7 receptions for 94 yards.

In 1973, Billy Joe DuPree was taken in the first round of that year’s draft and became the starter at tight end. Fugett remained as the backup tight end, collecting 9 receptions for 168 yards and 3 touchdowns, leading the team with an 18.7-yard average per reception.

In 1974, as the backup behind Dupree, he appeared in 12 games with 2 starts. He made 4 receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown.

In 1975, Fugett started nine games in place of an injured DuPree. He was the team’s second leading receiver (behind Drew Pearson), with 38 receptions for 488 yards and three touchdowns. He also started Super Bowl X against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Washington Redskins

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After the courts ruled in favor of the National Football League Players Association, a new form of free agency was briefly instituted in 1976 Fugett signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins and was looked upon as the replacement of former All-Pro Jerry Smith.  He was named the starter over Smith, finishing with 27 receptions (tied for third on the team) for 334 yards (third on the team) and 6 receiving touchdowns (led the team).

In 1977, he led the team with 36 receptions for 631 yards, a 17.5-yard average and 5 touchdowns. At the end of the year, he was tied with the St. Louis CardinalsJ. V. Cain in Pro Bowl votes, but edged him based on the team records.  In the offseason, he underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

In 1978, he appeared in 14 games with 12 starts, making 25 receptions for 367 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns (led the team).

In 1979, he was limited with a knee injury and started 6 games, before being replaced in the starting lineup with rookie Don Warren. He retired prior to the 1980 season, after he did not receive a contract offer from the Redskins.

Personal life

During his time with the Redskins, Fugett earned his J.D. degree at the George Washington University Law School, attending school only at night.  After his eighth year as an all pro tight end in the NFL and passing the Maryland state bar exam, he made the decision of joining his older brother Reginald Lewis in business.

While working with Lewis, Fugett largely contributed the founding of TLC Group in 1983. From there he 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.

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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 United States 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.

In addition to his law practice, Fugett is the most recent past President of the Retired Players Steering Committee of the National Football League Players Association, as legal counsel and advisor to Wall Street investment services firm GFS Acquisition Partners, Managing Director of Axum Capital Partners, and on the Leadership Council for the American Diabetes Association Maryland Chapter.

Fugett currently resides in Baltimore with his wife Carlotta. His two sons are Joseph “Russell” and Reginald. His only daughter Audie married Adam Jones in late-December 2014.

Fugett is the son of Jean S. Fugett, Sr. and the grandson of Joseph R. Fugett.


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Jean Fugett
No. 84
Position: Tight end
Personal information
Born: December 16, 1951 (age 69)
Baltimore, Maryland
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school: Cardinal Gibbons (MD)
College: Amherst (MA)
NFL Draft: 1972 / Round: 13 / Pick: 338
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 103
Receptions: 156
Receiving Yards: 2,270
Touchdowns: 28
Player stats at · PFR

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From Baltimore, to Super Bowl X, 

To Wall Street and Paris, and Home Again.

Jean 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. From there 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.



Things have always come so easily for Jean Fugett. He skipped two grades as a youngster in Baltimore, was a 16-year-old freshman scholar-athlete at Amherst College and made the Dallas Cowboys at 20, a long shot 13th-round draft choice at tight end who became the youngest player in the National Football League in 1972.For the last six months Fugett, 41, has found his life considerably more complicated. When his older half-brother, Reginald F. Lewis, a lawyer-businessman, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Jan. 19 at age 50, less than two months after he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, Fugett, the handpicked successor, became chairman and CEO of New York-based TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. TLC stands for The Lewis Company, and Fugett has taken over the largest African American-owned firm in the world.To become head of a multinational food conglomerate with $1.6 billion in annual sales so suddenly might be overwhelming to some. But, according to Fugett’s friend and former teammate, Calvin Hill, Fugett is “a very creative guy.”Hill said Fugett has “always been extremely eclectic in his interests. And intellectually, he’s a very curious man.”Lately, Fugett has become curious about the Baltimore Orioles, a team that once employed him as a roving food vendor, part-time groundskeeper and summer intern. He kept such meticulous statistics in the summer of 1969, manager Earl Weaver more than occasionally based his on-field moves on the numbers he was getting from the kid up in the press box.For the next few weeks, Fugett and his financial advisers will be looking at a different set of Orioles numbers, seeking to determine whether TLC Beatrice will enter the bidding to purchase the team from financially strapped Eli S. Jacobs. A New York bankruptcy judge is overseeing the team’s sale and is expected to make a decision at a hearing on Aug. 2.A group headed by Cincinnati businessman William O. DeWitt Jr. has offered $146.25 million. A group headed by Maryland attorney Peter G. Angelos has said it is prepared to offer $148.1 million. Other groups also may bid.In an interview Monday night, Fugett said he believes the price will go higher. He’s been approached by several groups he declined to name about joining their effort to purchase the team — or about them joining him. He’s even been approached by someone willing to sell him a minority interest in the New York Yankees, which he said does not interest him.”We’re looking at it {the Orioles} and seriously considering it,” Fugett said. “I’ve get to get comfortable with it — you have to look at the labor issues, the television issues. … I hope to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.”Our financial people think it’s financeable. I don’t know if that’s true at $250 million. But certainly, you’ve got to think it’s going to be north of $150 million. Our feeling is, where there’s complexity, there’s also opportunity.”Fugett said his brother had been seriously talking to Jacobs about purchasing the Orioles as long as two years ago.

“It’s something our family has been interested in doing for some time,” he said. “We’ve already invested a lot of time and money in it. … Right now it {the asking price} is $150 million. Put it this way: We had trouble getting to the original asking price of $140 million. Reg and Jacobs never made the deal. That’s a lot of balls and bats.

“But in light of what’s been happening, it will depend on what we think the future of the sport is going to be. … If you can buy it for $70 million {as Jacobs did} and sell it for $140 {million}, that’s a good thing. Right now, the {baseball} television deal looks horrible, but if you go to pay-per-view, it might look good. There could be a labor problem, a strike, but there also could be a salary cap.

“If we were going to do it, the family would have to control it. But this is an opportunistic organization. Our cash flow provides good opportunities to acquire businesses like that. … Now it’s time to look at opportunities. I know a lot about the sports business. I won’t rule anything out.”

Other sources have said Fugett, who played for the Cowboys and Washington Redskins until 1980, also has expressed interest and made inquiries about the possibility of purchasing other sports properties, including the Washington Bullets and Capitals and Maryland’s thoroughbred racing tracks.

Fugett would say only that “if it’s for sale, it’s something we understand and could add value to. This company will be looking at other opportunities all across the board. That’s all I really want to say.”

Learning a New Position

For most of the last six months, Jean S. Fugett Jr. has said little about his sudden ascension to the board room last January. Until this week, a man who had once edited his college newspaper, served as a pro football analyst for CBS and worked as a reporter for The Washington Post had turned down interview requests from most of the country’s major newspapers, magazines and broadcasting outlets.

“You couldn’t believe the list just from the first month alone,” Fugett said. “I just felt it would be too much of a distraction, so we decided to wait. My strategy for the first few months was to get an understanding of my job.

“It was more than a full-time proposition. … I wish I had six more hours a day. … Numbers I had once looked at only briefly, I really had to study now. I had to make sure I knew what the problems were. My job was to get in control of these responsibilities.”

Fugett was hardly a novice in matters concerning his brother’s company, acquired in a leveraged buyout for $985 million in 1987. Fugett had earned his law degree from George Washington in 1981, initially attending night classes while an active player and union representative with the Redskins.

As a football player, he was highly skilled but had a reputation as an underachiever. He lived for game Sundays but was not particularly enamored of practice or the weight room. “He didn’t play up to his potential,” Cowboys teammate Cliff Harris recently told the Dallas Morning News. “He didn’t maximize his talent at all.”

But away from football, he was a dynamo, with a strong sense of family responsibility. After law school, he started his own Baltimore-based law firm and took in a younger sister, Sharon, also an attorney. Three years ago, he decided to join the Baltimore firm of Rifkin, Evans, Silver and Rozner in “of counsel” status.

“We’d been recruiting Jean for quite some time,” said Alan Rifkin, a partner in a firm with a high profile in Maryland business and political circles. “We were enamored with the total package. He’d been a pro athlete, had a great education, had run his own shop and had a very nice practice.

“The bottom line on Jean is that he’s a very competent, highly qualified attorney. He also had great aspirations to be involved in sports, and we asked him to help us create a sports law practice. He was far down the road in that when his brother died. When it became clear that Jean would be offered the chairman’s position, he came and asked if he could take a leave from the firm. When we talked about it, Jean concluded it would be better if he assumed that role with no strings attached.”

Reginald Lewis had brought his younger brother into his business dealings long before in a part-time capacity, and had also named him as a member of the TLC Beatrice board.

“His brother called on him regularly,” Rifkin said. “He looked to Jean for the kind of counsel you can only get from someone in your own family — the truth, the critical advice you need. There was always a flurry of calls to Jean right before a board meeting. We encouraged that kind of participation. … He continued to gain more and more responsibility on the board. He was thoroughly prepared for what happened.”

Fugett represented a wide range of clients before leaving Rifkin’s firm, including lobbying in Annapolis for clients such as Crown Petroleum, several insurance companies and Joe De Francis, the majority owner of Laurel and Pimlico thoroughbred racetracks. He also represented a dozen pro athletes, including Cowboys defensive lineman Tony Tolbert.

Too Busy to Talk

Beginning in May 1992, Fugett was a co-host on a daily sports talk show at Washington’s WTEM radio from 7 p.m. to midnight. He resigned in January because of his brother’s illness and the mounting workload in his practice and with TLC Beatrice. Sources at the station say Fugett’s show probably was not going to be renewed because of weak ratings, but WTEM was still interested in retaining his services for its Redskins programming.

There is no time for any of that now as Fugett shuttles between New York, Paris and occasional family visits back in the Baltimore-Washington area. He is immersed in the business. And contrary to some reports at the time of Reggie Lewis’s death, Fugett said there was never any intention of him downsizing or selling the company.

“People ask me about him all the time,” said Mike Miller, president of the Maryland Senate who got to know Fugett during his frequent lobbying efforts in Annapolis. “They want to know about how he’ll be able to command such a large corporation. I believe a person of his drive, his intelligence and his enthusiasm, which he’s demonstrated over and over again, can add a new dimension to the corporation and add to his brother’s success.”

“Jean definitely knew the business,” said Washington attorney/sports agent Brig Owens, his former Redskins teammate and still a good friend who talks to Fugett regularly. “When it first happened, a lot of people were telling the media he ought to sell the company. Jean didn’t want to hear that. Some people said he wasn’t capable of running it without ever giving him the benefit of the doubt. He’s fooling them all.

“George Allen used to tell us consistency is the truest measure of performance. That’s what Jean’s done with his life and with the company. All I hear are good things.”

TLC Beatrice is a privately held company, but an analyst at a leading investment firm who tracks the corporation said it’s too early to tell what impact Fugett has had.

“There’s been no major change that I know of,” the analyst said. “Each of the units in TLC Beatrice are run by people who have been in the business for a long time. I think Mr. Lewis had all the confidence in the world in those people.

“Unless Mr. Fugett went in there and told them what to do, which I doubt, I don’t think their operations should be affected by anything other than the usual market influences and the European recession. The company was in good shape when he took over. They hardly have any debt. They probably don’t have $150 million in cash sitting around either {to purchase the Orioles}, but they’re definitely well-positioned to get it. Operationally, the company is doing very well.”

Studying His Craft

Fugett credits his brother for preparing him for a role he would have been happy not to fill. Fugett said he idolized Reggie Lewis as the perfect role model — scholar, athlete, graduate of Harvard Law School, successful attorney, businessman and philanthropist.

He recalled the trepidation he felt telling his big brother he had selected Amherst over Harvard when he graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Baltimore. “I was scared to tell him,” Fugett said, “but we compromised. I told him I’d go to Harvard Law instead.

“I’d been working with him ever since my retirement from football {in 1980 because of a knee injury}. Everything I had done was focused as an assistant to him. I came to New York and learned legal skills from his partners. The last few years, 10 days to two weeks a month I’d go up to New York to TLC. They were my major client.

“I knew at some point I’d have a role that could be larger if I wanted it. … The circumstances of how this happened made it very difficult. But as far as my knowledge of the company, I’ve been here since Day One. Nothing has been a surprise, and my experience has served me well.

“Being the one who now has to make the final decision makes it difficult. … I’ve got 5,000 employees all over the world. You learn that you can’t just focus on one issue. You have to look at the whole picture. I learn as I go along. I feel better now than I did a month ago. I’ll feel better in a month than I do now.

“My brother has been my guiding light since the day I was born, such a shining example of someone who worked so hard and became so succesful,” Fugett said. “I’ve been trying to emulate him for a long time.”

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