Bon Jovi's Got Soul

By | September 24, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Who would’ve pegged Jon Bon Jovi as a Soul man?

The New Jersey rocker and pigskin aficionado announced Monday that he has purchased a stake of the Philadelphia Soul, making him a co-owner of the Arena Football League’s latest expansion team.

“I’m a football fanatic. I like other sports, but I love football,” Bon Jov said. “I live and die football. The day after the Super Bowl, I usually go into mourning.”

Before he landed his team, Mr. Livin’ on a Prayer had to convince league execs that he was a serious businessman, not some chuckleheaded celeb looking for a vanity project.

“I didn’t get rich or famous by being stupid,” Bon Jovi told the New York Times. “I’ve been able to surprise people with my business acumen.”

Bon Jovi, 41, was able to hook up with real-estate developer Craig Spenser, who initially was the sole applicant for the expansion team. But once Spencer heard the “Bad Medicine” singer’s sales pitch, he decided to take him on as a partner.

The duo reportedly plunked down $15 million for the franchise.

Joining them in the owner’s box is bandmate Richie Sambora, who ponied up some of his own dough for a small piece of the Soul. Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback-turned-ESPN broadcaster Ron Jaworski will be the team’s president.

Bon Jovi even came up with the team name, after the soulful Philly Sound of the 1970s. “You have to have a catchy name that has something to do with the city, and most importantly, it has to have a unique aspect to it,” he said at press conference. “You wouldn’t get that with one of those aggressive animals.”

While it might make a great marketing blitz, don’t expect Bon Jovi and his eponymous band-who kicked off last year’s NFL season with an all-star concert in Times Square-to play “It’s My Life” or “You Give Love a Bad Name” during the Soul’s halftime shows.

Instead, Bon Jovi has agreed to appear in a television promo for the AFL to air on NBC. Additionally, he and the boys will play a one-off private concert/pep rally exclusively for Soul season ticket-holders before the league’s four-month-long season launches in February.

“This is a very sports-minded town. You know what they think of their sports teams: They love them, they love to hate them. But they’ll love you if you try, if you give everything you have, if you go above and beyond,” he said.

“This is my reputation. It took me 20 years to sell out Veterans Stadium. I’d hate to ruin that by promising [a winning team] and not delivering on it.”

Speaking of which, Bon Jovi the band has opted to take a break from the road so he can focus on the Soul, which becomes the second AFL expansion team when it starts playing next season and is the 18th team overall in the league.

In the meantime, to keep his music fans sated, Bon Jovi is releasing This Left Feels Right, a collection featuring acoustic versions and new instrumentations of the band’s old concert faves, along with two new songs, “Last Man Standing” and “Thief of Hearts.”

“We went into the studio thinking we were making an acoustic record,” Bon Jovi said. “We had a definite idea of the record we were going to make. But once we began experimenting with the songs and trying out new ideas we created a very different, unique album. We made a complete left turn and took the project down a different road.”

The album hits stores on November 4.

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