NFL Stars Blitz Baja
By Rick Stedman
The growing interest in the National Football League south of the border sparked creation of the Baja Athletic Conference. More than 2,000 NFL fans attended the memorabilia and signing event that kicked off three days of fun in the sun, which included a golf tournament and fishing derby.
The inaugural Baja Athletic Conference (BAC), the brainchild of former NFL star Sedrick Ellis, brought together current and former National Football League players for a weekend of golfing, fishing, networking, and schmoozing with football fans. The three-day event in late February included 61 NFL Hall of Fame members and current NFL players, 320 Fortune 500 VIP guests from all walks of the business world, and 70 military veterans.
“During the three-day event, we were able to establish business connections with current players and the VIP attendees to possibly help them transition once their NFL careers are through,” explained Ellis. “Current players were also able to tap into the wealth of knowledge provided by the NFL legends and Hall of Fame members.”
In addition to the loads of fun and upbeat atmosphere, the BAC also benefitted several charities in the process. All of the event winners were able to donate their winnings to a charity of their choice, said Ellis. (See accompanying chart.)
A few of the NFL Hall of Fame attendees included: Warren Sapp, Marshall Faulk, Jackie Slater, Cris Carter, Anthony Muñoz, Charlie Joiner, Thurman Thomas, John Randle, and James Lofton, to name a few. Some of the current NFL members participating in the BAC were Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, Devon Still, Torrey Smith, Matt Forte, Delanie Walker, EJ Manuel, Chris Thompson, and Cameron Jordan.
Athletes and guests were treated to nightly cocktail receptions and all-inclusive perks at The Cape, A Thompson Hotel. This luxurious hideaway is nestled in a private cove with breathtaking ocean views. The Cape features a commanding contour of the cape where every room and vantage point overlooks El Arco and the endless Cabo San Lucas horizon.
A major focus of the conference was to encourage more sports tourism throughout Baja California, which already has a huge appetite for NFL football. According to Ellis, the entire conference was also one of connecting. “We wanted to connect NFL Hall of Famers with current National Football League players, Fortune 500 representatives with current NFL players, fans with these legends of the game, while trying to assist military veterans with re-acclimating to civilian life again.” Energized fun was the collective result of this uplifting weekend.
The kick-off event, held at The Cabo del Mar Village, was billed as the Legends of Football Memorabilia Convention. Throughout the day-long event, guests had the rare opportunity to meet and greet their favorite NFL players, both past and present. Attendees could also purchase memorabilia and have it signed in person by the NFL stars.
Ellis, now a Cabo resident, offered the following summary of the BAC: “It was a lot of work, but to see the fruits of our labor play out in such an extraordinary way, truly makes it all worthwhile. Watching the Legends interacting with the current players was the most rewarding aspect of the entire event; they shared priceless advice and reminisced about their days in the league.”
The golf tournament took place at The Dunes at Diamante, which Golf Magazine currently ranks as the 38th best course in the world. Participants also played on the newest course at Diamante – the Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal. During the one-day golf tournament, players experienced some of the most dramatic scenery of any course on the planet. At the end of the fun-filled day, Marshall Faulk and Bradley Sowell walked away with bragging rights as the top golfers in the tournament.
Prize Money Donated to Charity
Team Low Gross:
Team Marshall Faulk
Individual Low Gross: Marshall Faulk
to the Marshall
Team Low Gross:
Team Bradley Sowell
Individual Low Gross: Bradley Sowell
to the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund // Fishing Tournament // 1st Place
Charity: The Liberty City Optimist
Club of Florida
Prize: $25,000 to The Liberty City Optimist Club of Florida // 2nd Place
Vessel: Carpe Diem
Charity: TBD (Two separate charities
to be donated)
to each charity
For the fishing tournament the following day, a total of 16 charter boats fanned out into the warm waters surrounding Los Cabos. The one-day team event offered prize money to anglers and teams for their performance in releasing the most billfish, or catching the heaviest gamefish. Former NFL star Warren Sapp took home the trophy for the largest fish caught.
Even before the inaugural Baja Athletic Conference concluded, plans were already in the works for the second annual event. “We’ve had amazing feedback from everyone who participated in the BAC,” said an enthusiastic Ellis. “I am proud of what my partners, the staff, and our sponsors were able to accomplish, and I am eager to get to work on our 2018 event. I’m also looking forward to taking the Baja Athletic Conference to new heights next year.”
According to Ellis, the second annual Baja Athletic Conference will take place a few weeks after Super Bowl LII, which is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2018.
Updates on next years’ event can be found online at Baja Athletic Conference.