One could easily say Malcolm Glazer was a man with a vision. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ late owner came from humble beginnings and later made a fortune by acquiring a range of businesses. The New York native made a fortune and transformed the lives of thousands through his philanthropic efforts. It’s ironic that Glazer struggled with his eyesight early on.
Malcolm Glazer’s early life and business success
Born in Rochester, New York, the son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, Glazer started by working at his father’s watch repair shop. After a brief college stint, he returned to the watch business full-time and repaired them at a nearby military base. Glazer poured his profits into investments and created a holding corporation, First Allied, to consolidate them.
As First Allied grew, Glazer took stakes in and control of larger companies. And as Glazer sought to take over various businesses, First Allied’s stock increased, and Glazer grew richer. By 1995, Glazer had purchased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $192m, which at the time was a record sum.
The Buccaneers had a poor track record, never winning a Super Bowl. And many people believed that Glazer overpaid. However, Glazer leveraged the city into funding a new stadium and a lease with extremely favorable terms to Glazer, according to The Guardian.
Within two years, Glazer’s Buccaneers, under new \ coach Tony Dungy, got to the playoffs but advanced no further. Five years later, under former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs made it to Superbowl XXXVII — against Oakland. With Gruden’s knowledge of Oakland’s playmaking, the Buccaneers dominated Oakland to win their first Super Bowl.
Glazer’s philanthropic activities
By his passing in 2014, Malcolm Glazer was worth $4 billion from his ownership of First Allied. It held significant shares in or owned well-known companies, such as Harley-Davidson, Houlihan’s, and Omega Protein, as well as the Bucs and soccer franchise Manchester United. Not only did Glazer leave an immense portfolio behind to his family, but he also left behind a tremendous philanthropic legacy.
In 1999, he established the Glazer Family Foundation, which engaged in a range of charitable activities in Tampa Bay. In 2006, he created and oversaw an offshoot of the foundation, the Vision Program, to provide eye exams and prescription glasses to children experiencing vision problems. The Vision Program was incredibly personal to Glazer, who struggled with poor eyesight as a child.
According to the Glazer Vision Foundation, when he received his first pair of glasses and could see, it was a life-changing moment. So he established the Vision Program and oversaw its operations to share that transformative moment with as many school-age children as possible. The nonprofit has provided children with over 20,000 free prescription glasses and conducted more than 100,000 free eye screenings.
The Bucs owner’s enduring legacy
Though Glazer’s business interests were wide-ranging, he also left his mark on the sports world. Before he bought the team, the Buccaneers endured many losing seasons and were not considered a serious playoff contender. However, though the Bucs have not won a Super Bowl since 2002, they had numerous winning seasons starting in 1997. The team even made the playoffs multiple times.
However, since 2007, the Buccaneers have not been able to capture a playoff berth. In fact, from 2009 through 2015, they ended each season with losing records. And after completing the 2016 season with a 9-7 record, they’ve finished 2017-2019 with losing records as well.
But this year, they turned things around, landing a Super Bowl spot opposite the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Helmed by veteran quarterback Tom Brady, the Buccaneers have a shot at winning their second-ever Super Bowl.
After so many losing seasons, Buccaneers fans are electrified by the possibility of another championship win. The Glazer family, which retains control of the team, is undoubtedly excited by the possibility as well. Winning a Super Bowl for the first time in the stadium whose construction their father engineered would be a testament to Glazer’s vision when he first acquired the team in 1995.