DeBartolo would buy Bucs, says team not for sale
Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., the five-time Super Bowl champion and former owner of the 49ers, said he would buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if they were for sale.
But DeBartolo says the Glazer family which owns the Bucs and the Manchester United soccer club, has no plans to divest in their NFL team.
"The Glazers are friends of mine and I have no reason to believe the Bucs are for sale,'' DeBartolo told the Times Tuesday.
"Tampa has been my home for the past nine years, and if the team was for sale, I would definitely be interested in putting together an ownership group to buy the Buccaneers. But I have no reason to believe they're for sale.''
There has been recent speculation that the Glazers might consider selling the Bucs because of the large amount of debt they reportedly incurred in their $1.4-billion purchase of Manchester United.
Manchester United CEO David Gill has been quoted as saying the Glazers took 660 million pounds (or $915-million) of debt when they purchased the soccer club. He said they are paying 43 million pounds (or $59.9-million) per year to service the debt.
Since their purchase of Manchester United in 2004, the Bucs have not paid enormous signing bonuses for many top-flight free agents until signing Saints center Jeff Faine to a six-year, $37.5-million contract last March with $15-million guaranteed.
On Friday, the Bucs fired coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen. Both were signed to three-year extensions last season, leaving the Glazers on the hook for an estimated $25-million over the next three years.
They replaced them with two in-house candidates -- defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who becomes the youngest NFL coach at age 32; and Mark Dominik, 37, the team's former pro player personnel director who replaced Allen as GM.
For the past two years, DeBartolo has owned DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment, the full service agency located in Tampa that represents athletes, broadcasters and provides consulting services to corporations.
DeBartolo, 62, voluntarily resigned his position as owner of the 49ers in 1997 because of his involvement in a riverboat casino license case that led to the conviction of then Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards.
DeBartolo pleaded guilty in federal court of failing to report that Edwards extorted $400,000 from him to win a casino license.
In '99, the NFL imposed a one-year suspension, which automatically terminated on Jan. 31, 2000. He also paid a $1-million fine.
In a letter from then NFL Commisioner Paul Tagliabue to DeBartolo and his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, dated Feb. 14, 2000, Tagliabue wrote, "I am not aware of any basis for extending the league-imposed suspension and I do not expect to do so. Accordingly, there is no longer any absolute, suspension-based bar to Eddie's participation to Forty-Niners affairs.''
Over the years, DeBartolo has been approached by other NFL teams to gage his interest in ownership, but he has concentrated his efforts on his real estate empire and the sports and entertainment agency.