Charles Sullivan- A Legacy of Football, Entertainment & Medicine

Charles Sullivan, A Legacy of Football, interview transcript, by Alan Olsen for The American Dreams Show:

Alan Olsen: Can you share a little about your background with us?

Charles Sullivan: Yes, my late father during the Second World War was assigned to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. And he was director of public relations there and became very involved with their sports programs at the at the Naval Academy. One of the interesting factoids from that was that he was there at the same time as the father of Bill Belichick, the current head coach of the Patriots was also at Annapolis during those years. And he had been involved in, in organizing promoting the collegiate varsity sports programs of the Naval Academy. And he had done such an extraordinary job in that capacity that the Boston Braves baseball team, which was then owned by a fellow named Louis Perini, a famed contractor engaged him to become director of public relations for the Boston Braves. So we, our family moved from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Boston, to take up the position of the publicity director for the Boston Braves baseball team.

Alan Olsen: Eventually you transitioned over into relationship area with the Patriots, how did that all come about?

Charles Sullivan: Well, during the time that my dad was the publicity director for the Braves baseball team, he thought that it would be a wonderful addition to the Boston sports market if we could have a National Football League team. He knew Bert Bell who was the Commissioner of the National Football League and he knew the Mara family, from a number of different events in which they had participated and so he had spoken with Tim Mara and, and Bert Bell, about the possibility of awarding a franchise in the National Football League to the city of Boston. And as it turned out, both Tim Mara and Bert Bell passed away, during this time period and the American Football League, which was organized by Lamar Hunt, from the famous high oil family in Dallas, Texas. So my dad had applied to acquire a franchise and the American Football League. And if the time they had seven teams and Boston was to become the eighth. And how he was able to be considered for that was that he had been for many years a close friend of Frank Leahy, who was the former head coach of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. And frankly, he was the general manager of the San Diego Chargers, which were then on by the late and great Barron Hilton. And so, Barron Hilton and Frank Leahy. Were the sponsors of my father’s admission to the American Football League.

Alan Olsen: How old were you at this time, Charles?

Charles Sullivan: I was in my 20’s.

Alan Olsen: So it must have been something having dad get a football team and I imagine you automatically became one of the big fans of football on Sundays?

Charles Sullivan: Actually, in those days, our The, the American Football League in at least the New England market, in order not to compete with the New York Giants. We played our games on Friday night. And it was interesting because initially, we played our games at Braves field, which after the Braves left Boston in 1952, to go to Milwaukee. Braves field was acquired by Boston University and became known as BU field and so the early days of the American Football League in those days, we played it at the BU field.

My late father was very much of a person who would like to have his family involved in any endeavors that he was working on. So I became the assistant publicity director and by myself sisters managed the cheerleading squad. And my brother Bill was involved with the stadium logistics, helping get the stadium ready for the for the games.

Alan Olsen: You know, these stories about early days of the NFL and what has come today–I don’t think we really hear about the history that much. We see the once a year Super Bowl, which has record attendance. But why don’t you involve helping that Super Bowl get started?

Charles Sullivan: Yes. At the recommendation of my dad to Lamar Hunt, I was the AFL representative in putting together the first Super Bowl, and also the editor of the first Super Bowl program. So those were one wonderful experiences working on putting that together. We had it at the Los Angeles Coliseum and it was between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. And we were hopeful that the Patriots might participate in that game. And in the final game of that season, we were playing the New York Jets at the Shea Stadium. And if we won that game, we would be the Eastern Conference representative to play the Chiefs to go to the Super Bowl. So we were quite happy that that day because we heard that Joe Namath as the quarterback of the of the Jets had been barhopping the night before the game and that he did not go to sleep that night. So we were very hopeful that that spent since he had that kind of an evening that we would we would be able to be successful. Unfortunately, even having spent the night at various salons in and about New York. It did not affect Joe Namath’s efficacy, because he threw for six touchdown passes. And he won the game. So that was what happened. And then the night of the game. I went to a restaurant in New York with my parents called The Pen And Pencil and it was also a favorite restaurant of Joe Namath and so we went there and they had a trio playing as they’re at the restaurant. And Joe Namath popped in and we were quite sad that we’d lost the game. And Joe Namath saw us there. And in those days the teams and the players, the coaches, the owners. We all know each other. This was like a family deal. We were all struggling to compete against the National Football League. We all knew each other and Joe Namath came in. And he knew, of course, that we were disappointed. And he went to my mom, and he said, “Mary may I have this dance.” So, so she looked at my dad, and he said, “Go for it, Mary.” So that was how Joe Namath helped to make things better on what had been a very disappointing night.

Some years later, I was working, helping the Cantor Fitzgerald, people who have an every year to commemorate 9/11 they lost a lot of people went on that occasion. And I asked Joe Namath if he would be a celebrity participant in that event. And he agreed. And he did an awesome job. And he’s appeared at subsequent Cantor Fitzgerald Charity Days. He’s, he’s as active as can be, very focused on community service, and bringing the message of the charity elements of professional football to New York City and to any town that he visits,

Alan Olsen: I imagine was pretty hard for your family to give up ownership of the Patriots after being involved with the early days of the founding.

Charles Sullivan: Yes we owned the Patriots for 28 years and were very proud of the fact that the Patriot franchise was the first American Football League franchise to notch 500 victories and half of those victories were during our time. So we’re proud of that and  proud of the continuation of excellence of that franchise. We still have a an involvement in football. My brother Patrick is the founder and owner of a company called Game Creek Video, which provides production services for the television networks that are covering the National Football League and Major League Baseball and the NBA. So through Patrick, our family still has an extensive involvement with professional football in America. He has 48 broadcasts trucks that travel to all cities in North America, providing that that coverage and the Game Creek video company has the reputation of being tops in the market in terms of television production of sports events.

Alan Olsen: Now you also went into an event management company. And tell us about how you got that started.

Charles Sullivan: How I got that started was when I was in the US Army. I had been at the Public Relations Office for the United States Army infantry group at Fort Benning, Georgia, which was the site of the US Army infantry Center and the Commanding General there John MacNair Wright, who had been a survivor of the timed deathmatch, he said I would be hopeful that you could organize some events on the post for the troops. He said that will help our morale here. So I got the Upwards people group that to come and perform at the post. And I got Laverne Baker, who was a famous pop singer in those days and so Laverne and her band came and we sent a Chinook helicopter to the this nightclub in Atlanta called the Diamond Club. And we made arrangements with the Fulton County Police Department for that, for that time to have no cars in the parking lot. So suddenly a Chinook helicopter arrived and took Laverne Baker and her band to Columbus, Georgia, the site of Fort Benning. And we had every soldier on the post that came to that event. It was a great, great, great event. And also during those times, John Wayne has selected Fort Benning as the site for the filming of his legendary film, The Green Berets. And I had the wonderful opportunity as the army liaison officer to work with John Wayne, on the filming for the Green Berets. And we had an awesome cast. In addition to John Wayne, we had Aldo Ray, and David Hutton. And we had a great, great cast and a great experience. One of the things that happened during that time was that we were getting into August, and the trees were starting to turn. And so John Wayne said to me, “I don’t know what we’re going to do with the we’re having this problem with fall is coming in and this is supposed to be Vietnam. And so I said to him, “Well, Mr. Wayne, we can paint the trees” And he said, you can do that. So I said, Well, I, I have an order signed by, Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense, that I am to accord maximum support to this project. And, and we have 80 helicopters here. So we’ll paint the trees. That’s what we did.

Alan Olsen: That’s a good story, one that you often don’t hear. I understand you were also involved when Michael Jackson did his tour of Europe, your company helped to get that organized?

Charles Sullivan: We produced the tour of North America, it was it was called the Victory Tour. And we had over 2,500,000 people coming to sold out stadiums throughout America and Canada. And it was a tour that had a business model which was has since been replicated by other producers, but basically rather than have each city with a promoter making a local bid for promoting a tour in that city. This was done on a national basis. So that my company was the national promoter. And we subcontracted with local promoters for the logistical services. But we manage the tour, we promoted the tour, and we funded the tour. And that was how it happened and we had a great run, all of the shows were sold out. The opening night was in Kansas City and that was organized through our dear friend, Lamar Hunt who owns the Shiefs and also had the management rights on the Arrowhead Stadium, which was the home of the chiefs. And the opening night was sold out and we had over 250 media people from all around the world. One of the interesting stories from that time was when we played in Chicago at Comiskey Park, which is owned by my friend Jerry Reinsdorf, when we played in Chicago, the night before the day before Oprah Winfrey, call me and she said, “Could you arrange to have Michael Jackson appear on my show?” And as I’m sure you remember The Oprah Winfrey Show was in those days was the most highly rated television show in America. And so I said, “Well, I’ll ask him and see what he says,” so I asked Michael and Michael said, “Well, is a great honor that, that I’m being asked to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He said, but, you know, he said, it would be better if you appeared. Because it is immodest for me to speak about my accomplishments. I’m proud of them. But if I appear on our show, and, and speak about those accomplishments, it looks like I would be bragging and boasting… you can do a better job. And then I could about telling of my accomplishments.” And so that’s what happened. I appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, promoting Michael Jackson.

Alan Olsen: That’s a that’s a great story. Now, recently with COVID, I imagine that this has had a lot of impact to what you’re doing with the premier event management. Obviously, it’s any owner of a stadium or big production, how do you cope with that, Charles?

Charles Sullivan: Wow. Well, it has affected us the one of our most successful events for 20 years, has been the FBI scholarship fund- St. Patrick’s Day event, which is held in conjunction with the with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And that event provides money for scholarships for 28 sons and daughters of former FBI agents who died in the line of duty. And we could not have that last year, and we probably won’t be able to have it in 2021. And that was important both from the standpoint of the charitable beneficiary but also in terms of the support we received from the sponsors for that event, the primary one of which was a fellow here in New York called John Catsimtidis. And he’s the head of the Red Apple Group. And he’s been the sponsor for the St. Patrick’s Day event for many years. And he also sponsors our annual Chinese New Year concert at Carnegie Hall. So we unfortunately weren’t able to have them. What I’ve been doing in the in the interim is management consulting working for a splendid company in California called Veritone, which has an AI ware a product that significantly helps our law enforcement people on the local level and also on the federal level. And I’ve been assisting them with structuring and with financement. And, and that’s been a very wonderful experience. To do that, and how I learned about such things is my late father when he was with the Braves started a charity called the Jimmy Fund, which since he started it over the course of his lifetime, raised over a billion dollars for Children’s Cancer Research. And that charity gave birth to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, which is one of the top five cancer treatment facilities in our nation. So that had been the, the genesis of my interest in healthcare and technical elements that relate to health care, which this Veritone does. The other activity that I’ve been involved with. Since we have no events to promote- no permission to have an event for more than 10 people in the state of New York. So I’ve been working with a group of doctors here that have developed a treatment for COVID, utilizing nitric oxide particles that are ingested through an inhaler. And we are pursuing the financing in order to proceed with clinical trials at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which, coincidentally, my late grandfather whose name was Charles Milan, had been at the head of Obstetrics at the Women’s Hospital before the merger with Brigham and Women’s. And my sisters were born at that hospital. So they have stepped forward as soon as we are able to get the financing went to fund those clinical trials, we feel we’re obviously excited with the good news from Moderna and Pfizer. But this is not in that category is the treatment option, rather than a vaccine option. So we’re spending endless hours trying to bring that about and we expect good results from the clinical trials. And at that moment, we’ll apply for emergency certification from the FDA.

Alan Olsen: Oh, God bless you, you’ve done so much in your life. Charles and I’m really touched by the fact that you also give back heavily and trying to create cures for the in causes also for some of the less fortunate people in life that are suffering from cancer and also helping the scholarship funds for those that have a great need.

Charles Sullivan: Well, I appreciate that. Alan, the other major enterprise in my life is five years ago, I had worked with a colleague of mine, whose name is Lilly Lee, in organizing the arrival in America, of the Beijing Tongrentang Chinese medicine company. This this company, was founded in 1669. And it has over 1600 Chinese medicine products. And we purchased an interest in a clinic on Madison Avenue, called the Ming Jin Clinic after the manager of the clinic whose name is Dr. Ming, Jin. And we’ve found that combining traditional Chinese medicine, with Western medicine with immunotherapy and chemotherapy has had beneficial results. And we’re currently working with Memorial Sloan Kettering to do some clinical trials, combining the traditional Chinese medicine with immunotherapy and, and chemotherapy. So that that’s been an active, an endeavor for that, for us. And, and this, this clinic has the best practitioners of Chinese traditional Chinese medicine, and in all of North America. So we’re proud of the accomplishments of that wonderful clinic.

Alan Olsen: I love the way that is the technology and communication, improve within this role that we’re able to make the world a lot smaller by bringing medicines in from other countries and sharing them with the technologies that we have. I think overall, the more we share, the stronger our whole healthcare system becomes.

Charles Sullivan: I feel the same way and I’m very fortunate to have had in my in my projects the help and support of my colleague, Alan Brown, who was also kind of to introduce us. So kudos to Alan kudos to you. Thank you so much for the interview. I’m most grateful

Edited for Concision and Clarity

This transcript was electronically generated and may not contain the exact words used.


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Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.

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Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio

    Charles Sullivan on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
    Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan Co-produced the first Super Bowl as the representative of the American Football League and also co-edited the first Super Bowl program. Captain in the United States Army and project officer at the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Ft. Benning, Georgia for the filming of the Green Berets starring the late John Wayne, the late Aldo Ray and the late David Jansen, Produced eight “Up With People” shows and an Armed Forces Day show at Benning headlined by the late LaVern Baker. Project Officer for the 1968 Bob Hope Christmas Show from Southeast Asia starring the late Bob Hope, Ann-Margret, and the late Les Brown & His Band of Renown. He was also Project Officer for the visit in July of 1969 of the late President Richard Nixon to Thailand and assisted the President with the successful negotiation of the extension of leases for US Air Force bases in Thailand. Director of Public Relations and subsequently Executive Vice President for the New England Patriots Football Club and the owner of Sullivan Stadium, a 60,000 seat venue in in Foxboro, Massachusetts. When the Patriots earlier played at Harvard Stadium, Sullivan presented a pregame show of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. He presented shows at Sullivan Stadium of the late David Bowie, Willie Nelson, the Police, Simon and Garfunkel, Madonna, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, A Flock of Seagulls, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, Waylon Jennings and Thommy Makem & The Clancy Brothers. He served for eight years as Chairman of The National Football League Management Council. The Collective Bargaining Agreement Sullivan negotiated in association with Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers with the late Gene Upshaw of the NFL Players Association in 1982 provided the NFL with 25 years of labor peace and enabled the NFL to become the premier sports league in the nation. After starting his legal career at the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, Sullivan became the founding managing partner of the New York office of the New England firm of Edwards & Angell and subsequently the co-founding Managing Partner of the New York office of the California firm of O’Melveny & Myers. The O’Melveny New York office launch was a quite successful market entry for an out of state law firm as the New York office of O’Melveny now has more than 200 lawyers and is continuing its amazing growth. Producer of the Jackson Victory Tour featuring the late Michael Jackson which was seen by more than 2,200,000 million fans over 52 performances in 22 venues in the United States and Canada. Produced the sold out Chinese New Year Spectacular II at Carnegi Hall on February 10, 2016 featuring the Manhattan Symphonie Orchestra, with Gregory Singer as Conductor and with Jiaxin Tian as the piano soloist and former Mayor David Dinkins narrating Aaron Copland’s grand and glorious Portrait of Lincoln. Chairman of Oriental Development USA which is negotiating partnerships of US hospitals to provide training for doctors and administrators for hospitals in China.

    Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
    Alan Olsen

    Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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