TAMPA, Fla. — From the NFL’s depths to a renaissance that saw his franchise hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time, Malcolm Glazer lived it all as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ owner.
In eight short years, after he bought the team for $192 million on Jan. 16, 1995, he witnessed the Bucs escape a bumbling tradition and become the league’s best.
That will be one of the lasting memories of Glazer, who died Wednesday morning. He leaves behind his wife, Linda, six kids and 14 grandkids. He was 85.
"Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "His dedication to the community was evident in all he did, including his leadership in bringing Super Bowls to Tampa Bay. Malcolm’s commitment to the Bucs, the NFL and the people of the Tampa Bay region are the hallmarks of his legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Linda, their six children and the entire Glazer family."
Glazer was many things: An NFL ambassador as a member of the league’s Finance Committee; a prominent regional face as an instrumental figure in Tampa receiving the Super Bowl twice during his Bucs ownership, in 2001 and 2009; and a local humanitarian, as evidenced by the 1999 launch of the Glazer Family Foundation, which is dedicated to assisting charitable and educational causes in the Tampa Bay region.
His impact on the Bucs, though, is inescapable. They reached levels not seen before his ownership. Key developments include moving from Houlihan’s Stadium into Raymond James Stadium for the 1998 season, earning seven playoff berths plus five postseason victories and capturing the Super Bowl XXXVII title. They had three playoff appearances in the 19 seasons before he purchased the team.
Beyond Tampa, there was international flavor to Glazer’s interests. He purchased Manchester United in 2005 for $1.47 billion, a development that was controversial among fans of the storied soccer franchise at the time. But since then, the club has won five Premier League titles (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013) and a Champions League crown in 2008.
The Bucs will remain within the Glazer family. Linda, along with the five sons and daughter Darcie, will continue to own and operate the team as part of a long-established estate succession plan, as announced by the franchise Wednesday.
"I will remember Malcolm Glazer as someone whose influence made a lasting impact on both ends of the Atlantic in the world’s two greatest sports leagues, the National Football League and the Barclays Premier League," Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said in a statement. "But his greatest legacy may be in the state of Florida, where I am now fortunate to own the Jacksonville Jaguars. Malcolm brought to our state the Bucs, Super Bowls and of course a world championship in 2002. In essence, he helped turn a good football state into a great football state. He will be missed but always admired."
Born on Aug. 15, 1928, in Rochester, New York, Glazer was the fifth of seven kids. The son of a watch-parts salesman, he began work in the family business at age 8. He took control of the family’s wholesale jewelry venture at age 15, after his father’s death in 1943.
Over time, Glazer grew his wealth while earning the reputation as a savvy businessman. He served as president and CEO of First Allied Corp., the holding company for the Glazer family business interests, and he had investments in diverse interests such as real estate, television stations, mobile-home parks, food service equipment and natural gas. In March 2010, Forbes estimated his net worth at $2.4 billion.
A resident of Palm Beach, Florida, Glazer had maintained a low public profile in recent years. He suffered two strokes in spring 2006 that caused impaired speech and a decrease in mobility in his right arm and leg. Three of his sons — Bryan, Joel and Edward — are Bucs co-chairmen and have maintained a significant presence in the team’s operation.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Malcolm Glazer," Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement. "He was a Super Bowl champion, a true innovator and pioneer that cared about his family, the community and his team. The entire Dolphins family sends our prayers and thoughts to the Glazer and Buccaneers family during this difficult time."
A private funeral service for Glazer will be held. A chance for others to celebrate his life will be announced at a later time.