TAMPA — In this era of NFL franchise relocation, with the Rams and Chargers playing in Los Angeles, and the Raiders ticketed for Las Vegas in a few years, the Bucs may be among the most stable teams in the league.
They have invested $150 million into renovations of Raymond James Stadium. They have sunk another $20 million into an indoor practice facility. They were instrumental in bringing Super Bowl LV to Tampa in February 2021.
On the field, they have a bright, young quarterback in Jameis Winston and continuity with coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht.
So if you are a fan of the Bucs, or the NFL in general, and live in Tampa Bay, you need to thank Malcolm Glazer.
The late Bucs owner will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor during halftime of tonight's game against the Patriots.
"First and foremost, Malcolm gave us a chance to do a stadium deal in Tampa and keep the franchise where it belonged," said Falcons president Rich McKay, a trustee of late Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse who became Tampa Bay's general manager under Glazer from 1994 to 2003.
"Many who were considering purchasing the franchise had every intention of moving the team."
The Bucs have been operated for a number of years by his wife, Linda, and the couple's five sons and one daughter.
They are his legacy now, as is the Glazer Family Museum and the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center in Tampa. Daughter Darcie S. Glazer Kassewitz also lives in the city. Son Joel is co-chairman of the Bucs and English Premier League soccer team Manchester United. Together, the sports franchises are valued by Forbes magazine to be worth $5.69 billion.
Malcolm Glazer died in 2014 at age 85. He was a self-made billionaire, one of seven children who grew up in Rochester, N.Y. His father died when he was 15, and he took over the family watch business. He became a real estate mogul who lived in Palm Beach but purchased the Bucs for a then record amount of $192 million in 1995.
He was a stealth NFL owner if there ever was one. The red-bearded Glazer seldom spoke publicly. He knew very little about football, but he understood how to hire the right people to run his businesses.
He had the foresight to hire Tony Dungy as coach in 1996, and that turned the franchise's fortunes around. He and his family have hired two other African-American head coaches, Raheem Morris and Lovie Smith.
"Malcolm will never get the credit he deserves on the football side," McKay said. "He allowed us to hire Tony Dungy, and that was the single most important thing we did to get a franchise that had been going the wrong direction for a long time turned around."
Despite four playoff appearances in six years, Glazer fired Dungy after the 2001 season and made a bold move to trade two first-round draft picks, two second-round picks and $8 million to the Raiders for head coach Jon Gruden. In his first season, Gruden led the Bucs to a win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
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After Glazer suffered two strokes, the Bucs had rough times, to say the least. They had a revolving door of head coaches, from Gruden to Morris, Greg Schiano, Smith and now Koetter. They went from Bruce Allen to Mark Dominik and now Licht as GM. Ten years have passed since the Bucs' last playoff appearance.
"What you learn quickly in sports is that it's not easy," Joel Glazer said. "You've got to have great players, great coaches. Everybody on the same page. And you're competing with 31 other people who want it as much as you do. You do your best, and if you make a mistake, you own up to it, try and correct it and keep moving forward."
Joel said mistakes have been made but the Bucs have learned from them. "The lack of stability was killing us internally," he said. "But the franchise has turned the corner, and we're entering an era of stability."
Two principles Joel says he takes from his father: "Really be appreciative for what you have. And don't take anything for granted. But from a Buccaneers standpoint, always be mindful of what's important to the fans. I can't tell you how many discussions we had about that. You may not always do the right thing, but at least try and make sure you do your best for the fans."