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The man behind the offer

Published Jan. 11, 1995|Updated Oct. 3, 2005

Malcolm Glazer, a 66-year-old Palm Beach millionaire, is an enigma in the often high-profile world of big business. He says he wants to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also is the man who failed to entice the National Football League back to Baltimore.

Glazer said Monday he has made a formal offer to buy the Bucs, reportedly for about $190-million. He has said he intends to keep the team in Tampa, but he is expected to seek a commitment for a new stadium.

"He's a hands-off guy as long as things are going well," Frederick Hipp, president of the Kansas City-based Houlihan Restaurant Group, said Tuesday. Glazer is that group's chairman of the board.

"He's a tremendous guy to work with," Hipp said, "very pro management."

Hipp recalled a board meeting a few years ago when, amid the number-crunching, "the biggest concern (Glazer) had was a guest in one of our restaurants running out of toilet paper in the men's room. He spent 15 minutes on that. That's refreshing, having a hands-off chairman of the board interested on a continual basis on what's in the guest's best interest, rather than just the bottom line."

He is not an extrovert, "not a party animal," Linda Glazer, his wife of 35 years, said Tuesday. "He's a very outgoing person, though, lot's of fun. He'd make a great owner."

When the price tag for an NFL expansion team was set at $150-million, Glazer proclaimed: "We can write the check." He has, in fact, written a check to buy instruments for the Baltimore Colts marching band, which still exists even though the team fled to Indianapolis in 1984.

Yet when it came time to write a $50,000 check (as two other prospective ownership groups did) to help promote Baltimore's drive for a team, Glazer demurred, saying it didn't fit into his budget.

And in a family feud that dated to his childhood, the multimillionaire Glazer engaged his sisters in a protracted battle over their mother's estate, worth about $1-million before legal fees.

Along with his attempt to win an expansion NFL franchise for Baltimore (Maryland Gov. William Schaefer supported a different bidder; the NFL rejected Baltimore in favor of Jacksonville and Charlotte), Glazer has tried without success to buy the NFL's New England Patriots and baseball's San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also failed to convince the National League that one of its expansion teams should be "America's Team," splitting its home games among four cities.

Glazer is an admitted workaholic "from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed," overseeing First Allied Corp., a diversified holding company headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., where he grew up. "You show me a man who is highly successful," Glazer has said, "and I'll show you a man who works 80 hours a week."

By all accounts, Glazer is highly successful in the business world. His domain includes restaurants, television stations, shopping centers, nursing homes and mobile-home parks in several states, and one-third ownership of Zapata Corp., a Houston-based energy and commercial fishing company. He also has built a reputation as a corporate raider, buying into troubled companies and selling for a quick profit.

He has said he doesn't know how much he is worth _ and that if he did he wouldn't discuss it. One friend, Rochester developer Neil Norry, said Glazer is "very well known, but nobody knows him. He just doesn't pretend to be anything other than (what) he is."

In 1988 he left Rochester, buying a 14,000-square-foot, two-story oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach for $2.5-million and spending several million more to remodel it and the guest house. "I've always lived in a nice house," Glazer said several years after moving to Florida. "I'm a guy who goes home. I go to work, I go home. So, please, I want to have a nice home."

He and Linda have six children, ages 25 to 34. All have been involved in the family businesses. Two _ Bryan, 30, and Joel, 27 _ headed the effort when Glazer sought the Baltimore NFL expansion franchise.

Glazer is the son of Jewish immigrants. His father, Abraham, was a pawnbroker and repaired watches. Malcolm, the oldest son among seven children, worked in the family store. When he was 15, his father died and his mother handed him the family reins.

"My mother would always say to me: "You are my husband, my son, my everything,'

" Glazer once said. "My mother had a way of manipulating me." Within weeks of his father's death, Malcolm Glazer had turned salesman. At 21, he opened a watch-repair shop at a nearby military base. He made enough money to begin investing in real estate with his mother.

She died in 1980. Within days of the funeral, the children _ Malcolm and his younger brother, Jerome, on one side; five sisters on the other _ were in dispute over their mother's estate. It lasted more than 12 years and wound up in surrogate court.

Malcolm Glazer believes his sisters resent him because he was closer to his mother and brother than to them and that he gave his mother more than he gave them. Glazer also remembers that when his mother asked his sisters to take him to the movies with them, they would refuse.

"I think most disputes within families are people getting even with people over things that happened when they were 10 years old," he once said. "I really do."

_ Information from staff writer Stephen Nohlgren, Times researcher Carolyn Hardnett and the Baltimore Sun was used in this report.

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