PHOENIX — Ten years ago, the Bucs were fresh off their Super Bowl XXXVII victory over the Raiders when the NFL owners meetings convened at the Arizona Biltmore.
It was a time for back slaps, toasts and clinking glasses. But a decade has passed, and the Bucs have not tasted another playoff victory. They are still wandering the proverbial desert, a five-year postseason drought that for their fans has been as hard to swallow as sand.
Team co-chairman Joel Glazer was back at the scene of his prime Tuesday, seated on a patio at the Biltmore, but with a very different outlook.
"I don't know how to describe how it feels," Glazer said of the five-year playoff absence. "It rips you apart on the inside. Every fan feels that way."
For 30 minutes he talked about the Bucs, from the first year of coach Greg Schiano to the decision not to offer quarterback Josh Freeman a contract extension.
As has been the case in the past, Glazer said ownership takes full responsibility for the Bucs' lack of success and slumping attendance that has led to local TV blackouts of home games.
"There's no question we have to take responsibility," Glazer said. "Not being in the playoffs for five years, there's no question that is a contributing factor. So we have to get it right on the field, and we're committed to doing that and determined to doing that, and I'm optimistic about this upcoming season. I feel good about our football team."
Here are excerpts from the interview:
What do you think of the Bucs' performance (7-9) in the first year under Schiano?
We had our ups, and we had our downs, but overall I was pleased with Greg in his first year. He came in, had to put together an entire staff, had to make an adjustment going from college to the NFL. Then, boom, right into free agency, right into the draft, not a lot of time to settle down. But I think he did a tremendous job with the players, earning the respect of people around him, working well with (GM Mark Dominik) and then getting into the season. When the season ended, I was excited about getting to the next season right (away) as I've been in a long time.
Do you believe Josh Freeman is a franchise QB, and if so, why haven't you begun negotiating an extension?
The headline is it's his last year on his contract, but it's not that simple … and there are options. You saw with the Ravens (and QB Joe Flacco), it all worked out for them (Flacco signed an extension after winning the Super Bowl in February). You've seen (extensions) done too early, too late. … I think the important thing is that Josh is focused about what happens on the field. … We have a lot of confidence in Josh Freeman.
Is there added pressure on Dominik to win this year?
No one can't stand not winning more than myself or any member of my family. Then when you look at the situation, everybody is getting judged every year. I go into the (owners) meetings and there are eight or nine new head coaches. It's a demanding business, and the patience is small, at best, these days in the National Football League. We're no different. I think people in our organization put that same pressure on themselves.
You've mentioned the economy as a reason Raymond James Stadium doesn't sell out. How much of it can be attributed to losing?
Do we take responsibility? Absolutely. We also take the responsibility to fix it and put it on the right course and deliver another championship. That's what we're dedicated to do.
Do you support bold moves by Dominik and Schiano to pursue Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis?
Our view always is, if you can do something to make the team better, we're supportive. The circumstances, what you're giving up for the future, those are all factors. If there's something our coach and our general manager think it would be wise for the franchise, no matter who it is, we're always going to be open and supportive because our goal is winning.
What do you make of the poor attendance that led to blackouts?
We've got great fans in the area. The economy is still difficult. That hasn't changed overnight. … It's incumbent upon us to put a team on the field this community can be proud of, and they will respond. I have no doubt.
How concerned are you about the litigation by former players involving concussions?
The health and safety of our players and throughout football is paramount. We're doing everything we can. We're spending a lot of time in every meeting talking about what can be done to make the game safer.
How is your father, Malcolm? (He had a stroke in 2006.)
He's a tremendous person. He fights and always has a great attitude.
See the full Q&A at bucs.tampabay.com.