Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The city, the beard, and Malcolm Glazer

Team owner Malcolm Glazer celebrates after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 in San Diego.

Getty Images (2003)

Team owner Malcolm Glazer celebrates after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 in San Diego.

After the Glazers came to own our football team, a newsroom colleague had this crazy marketing idea.

The family patriarch, Malcolm Glazer, was proving aloof, or at least hard to read, for this little-big Southern city that likes to know its players well enough to decide how we feel about them.

A lot of us loved having New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner around, but he was, well, George Steinbrenner. Maybe we also loved him because he loved us back. The story of Steinbrenner sweeping up cigarette butts at the Florida State Fair when he was on the Fair Authority is often told, as are his acts of generosity in these parts.

The Glazers would turn out to be giving, as well, but the father stayed distant even as he built a Buccaneers team that won the Super Bowl. Some citizens did not love that sweetheart deal for a new stadium. And there was Glazer, an oddish, quiet rich guy who, even with that red beard, you wouldn't expect to see dressed as a pirate rubbing elbows with the wealthy hometown boys on the big ship at Gasparilla.

Speaking of that beard, my colleague had this idea that might have better connected Glazer to people filling the stadium seats. Instead of buying bobbleheads, fans could purchase an official Bucs "Weird Beard." Red, of course, although whether it would be made of fake beardish material or of cardboard on a stick for fans to hold to their chins was in debate. (Reporters need something to do between elections and indictments.) But if Weird Beards caught on, it could mean live game-day shots across America showing a sea of red-chinned fans — old guys, little kids, burly men, pretty women — seemingly in solidarity with the team owner.

I thought back to this when Glazer, who did a lot in a place he never seemed to be a part of, died this week at 85. Would he have appreciated the Weird Beard? Been offended? Seen its intended spirit?

And maybe there was for some a small, darker twist in the relationship between team owners and some in the city.

Former Mayor Dick Greco told me had never seen such hate mail as when the Glazers were buying the Bucs. He did not say anti-Semitic mail — Greco does not like to talk about such unpleasantness — but this was a thread that ran through some corners of town. Former Mayor Sandy Freedman told me of a big event early on with the Glazers at which a local notable next to her said, "Why do they all have such big noses?" It was a theme that Freedman, who is Jewish, continued to hear, quietly, when it came to the Glazers.

On another front, Greco tells a story of watching a game with Glazer when the other team intercepted. It was called back — great news if you were a Bucs man — except Glazer said, "Isn't that sad?" The man who intercepted must have felt bad. And, probably, it was best at that moment he was not out in the red-and-pewter-wearing, beer-sloshing masses, being less diehard fan than businessman.

When Glazer acquired Manchester United, a sports reporter calling from across the pond complained to Greco about this new American owner being all about the business and not the soccer. Who better? Greco said.

Would Malcolm Glazer have seen the potential in a Weird Beard, in a town not his own with fans who didn't really know him? From what we do know of him, if it did anything to build his Bucs and ours, probably so.

The city, the beard, and Malcolm Glazer 05/29/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2014 7:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  2. PolitiFact Florida: Rubio has a point about the child tax credit

    State Roundup

    The Trump administration and Senate and House leaders have revealed a framework for tax legislation that proposes tax cuts for business, a reduction in tax brackets, and the elimination of several tax breaks.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and other members of the committee arrive on Capitol Hill in August. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  3. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  4. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  5. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.