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Former NFL Receiver Vincent Jackson’s Business Interests Blossoming In Tampa

Vincent Jackson was honored during the 2018 University of South Florida Outstanding Young Alumni Awards event. (Credit: Matt May/University of South Florida Alumni Association)

TAMPA – At a young age Vincent Jackson understood the value of working, meeting people and building relationships.

From his early teens through high school the son of army veterans, Sherry and Terence, kept busy whether it was working at a motel, an airport restaurant, as a telemarketer or selling vacuums door-to-door. Such ambition served him well through his NFL career and certainly today as he continues to build his profile in Tampa Bay business circles.

Sure, the young man, who would ultimately become a three-time Pro Bowl receiver during a 12-year career with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, enjoyed athletics. Yet, even in his early teens Jackson knew there was a world beyond the field of play.

“I was out there getting exposure and it was really good for me because I was kind of a shy kid,” he said at his Tampa office. “Sports provided an environment where I could excel and be comfortable, but having those jobs allowed me to interact more with people and get me out of my comfort zone. It helped me become more well-rounded.”

Jackson grew up on military bases in Louisiana, Arizona and Germany before the family moved to Colorado Springs, Col., which was close to where Terence was stationed at Fort Carson. It was also where Jackson placed fourth in his class at Widefield High School while excelling on the football field as well as the basketball court. Despite his prowess on the gridiron he received little attention from Division-I football programs.

Ultimately, it came down to the University of Northern Colorado and Columbia. UNC, which was Division II at the time, was 125 miles north of the family home. The school’s strong business program appealed to Jackson and, of great importance, he was offered a partial scholarship, something the Ivy League institution did not.

“Being from a middle-class family, I didn’t want to bury my parents or myself with student debt,” he said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could get at least a partial scholarship. It was the best thing that I was offered. Northern Colorado worked out really well.”

After appearing mostly on special teams his first two seasons Jackson, who also played two seasons of basketball at UNC, finally had the opportunity to start as a junior. That was 2003 when the Bears elevated to the Football Championship Subdivision. The move up in competition coincided with Jackson re-writing a portion of the school’s record book when he totaled 146 receptions for 2,842 yards and 32 touchdowns in his final two seasons. In so doing he attracted the attention of many NFL scouts.

“The whole thing with football at the next level was not on my mind,” he said. “It was a bonus. I was (in college) for an education and football was something fun. When I became a starter, my junior year, that’s when I put myself on the map.”

A strong week at the Senior Bowl elevated his profile to the point Jackson was selected in the second round of the 2005 draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Occupied with draft preparations and transitioning to life as a pro football player meant leaving UNC 16 credit hours shy of his business degree. Jackson would have returned to campus in the off-season to wrap things up. However, he quickly learned NFL players, especially young ones, do not have much of an off-season.

In his 12-year NFL career with San Diego and Tampa Bay, Jackson caught 540 passes for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns. (AP Photo/Mike McGinnis)

“I needed to be in San Diego,” he said. “I was a young guy trying to earn (my spot on the Chargers). It was a year-round deal and I ended up putting education on the backburner with those handful of credits. I knew I would eventually get it done.”

Which Jackson did. In spring 2014, a couple of years after having moved to Tampa, he enrolled at the University of South Florida. In May 2016 he received a degree in business administration, lifting a weight from his conscience.

“(Not having a degree) was like the darkest cloud for me just sitting there because when I was talking to kids at camps and mentoring youths I would be preaching education, education and more education,” he said, chuckling at how his message contradicted the fact he didn’t have his degree.

Education and having other interests meant a lot to Jackson because he understood football could end at any time.

“You hear the stories that the NFL is Not For Long,” he said. “There were a lot of players coming and going. You see that and it’s like, man, you build these relationships and the next thing you know the guy’s locker is empty. That was a reality check. I thought, ‘Okay, that could be my number called, so I better be prepared for the next stage.’”

Jackson started preparing in earnest after the 2006 season, his second in the league. He did so in large part by engaging, whether through charitable or social functions, with people in San Diego’s business community.

“San Diego is a bustling market with a lot of successful people,” he said. “My mindset was I needed to find out what makes them successful. I invested a lot of time to put myself out there, getting business cards at events and following up by sending emails, making phone calls and making time for lunch meetings.”

In 2008 Jackson met current business partners Clarence Butt and Tom Phanco. A few years later they co-founded CTV Capital, with the three letters representing the initials of the partners’ first names. Jackson, who is the CEO, describes the business as a small- to medium-size private equity firm.

Together they invested in lots on which homes in high-end communities in San Diego and Reno would be built. Jackson also invested in the restaurant business, both original concepts as well as Tilted Kilt franchises in San Diego and Las Vegas.

“I love the service industry,” he said. “I have a passion for food. I have a passion for that social environment. Families get out of the house, get a great product and enjoy themselves. I like being a staple in the community with that type of service.”

Vincent Jackson joins youths at his foundation’s Salute to Reading event in the spring of 2017. (Credit: Toiaya Crawford/Jackson In Action 83 Foundation)

Jackson has been a staple in Tampa Bay community since signing as a free agent with the Buccaneers in 2012. After arriving in Tampa, and with his wife, Lindsey, and his business partners back in San Diego, he spent much of his free time exploring his new environs. It did not take long for him recognize the potential.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is much different than California,’” he recalled. “It was more affordable, a lot more volume here and not as competitive. So, I called my partners and said, ‘Clarence, Tom, you guys have to come down here and I want you to either tell me that I am out of my mind or verify what I am seeing.’”

Jackson was not losing his mind. Butt and Phanco ultimately joined him in the Sunshine State and today CTV Capital operates mostly in central Florida with some interests in Nevada and Ohio.

“The ball has been rolling here,” said Jackson, who in 2013 was among a select group of NFL players to attend a business program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “Opportunity has been good.”

Since 2015 Jackson, along with other partners, has opened three eateries in the Tampa Bay area bringing his number of restaurants to seven. Among them is Callaloo, which is located at St. Petersburg’s historic Manhattan Casino. Opened in 1931 it is where the likes of B.B. King and Duke Ellington performed.

“Our ribbon-cutting was in May, so it’s fresh,” said Jackson.

As his name in the Tampa Bay business community and portfolio have grown, so has Jackson’s family. Lindsey and Vincent are proud parents of Carter (5), Amaya (3) and Dominick (1).

“We are starting to really put down roots,” said Jackson, who retired from the NFL following the 2016 season. “Tampa has been a great town for us.”

The 2017 South Tampa Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year has spent much time giving back. He was involved in a number of charitable causes in San Diego and he broadened his scope of philanthropy in Tampa, which is home to MacDill Air Force Base.

In November 2012, and using his uniform number, he founded the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation. Among the foundation’s missions is to help the families of loved one serving away from home.

“I thought that there was a mission to support, not only the active duty men and women, but their families,” said the 2016 USAA National Salute to Service Award winner. “While the troops are making the ultimate sacrifice, other people are being affected. One thing not talked about is how the family structure is supported while family members are away serving the country.”

It is a family affair when it comes to the foundation. Terence, who served two decades in the army, and Sherry, who spent 25 years working for the government, moved to Tampa a couple of years ago to be close to their only child.

“Mom and dad have gotten involved,” said Jackson. “They can relate to these families that we touch and talk to. (The foundation) is one of my pride and joys, for sure. It’s a labor of love.”

So was getting that degree. This spring, two years after receiving it, the 35-year-old was among seven individuals honored by USF as “Outstanding Young Alumni.”

“It was such a blessing,” he said of completing his education. “USF was a godsend. I went to class, wrote my papers and did all the work I needed to do. Many classes I took came at I time when they were useful in building my businesses.”

It was one of many experiences Jackson shares with NFL players. His message for them is to make the most of their career on the gridiron, but they better have something to fall back on.

“Enjoy it and work hard to be successful in football, for sure,” he said. “But start preparing yourself now and find out what industries you might have a passion for and seek some education about them. At least have a little plan so it doesn’t smack you in the face. There is life after football. I loved the game. I gave it my all and I transitioned on my terms.”