Tom Brady throwing to Scotty Miller on the last play of the first half for a 39-yard touchdown in the NFC championship game was a pretty bold move as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned a berth in Super Bowl 55. However, it was in line with the brash moves in the past of the team’s ownership.
Malcolm Grazer made two very risky purchases in becoming an important figure in sports on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. They resulted in one of the most visible and valuable sports empires in the world.
Hugh Culverhouse was the first owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in the 1976 season as expansion franchises that brought the total number of teams in the league to 28. Although Hugh Culverhouse was not the first choice of league owners to buy the Tampa Bay franchise, he stepped in when a previous arrangement fell through. The expansion fee was $16 million.
The Bucs lost the first 26 times that they took the field under colorful head coach John McKay but improved rapidly and played in the NFC championship game in their fourth season. However, there were only two more playoff appearances, and the team was in poor shape financially when Culverhouse died in 1994, forcing his estate to put the Buccaneers up for sale.
Malcolm Glazer bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Businessman Malcolm Glazer branched out in a number of directions in amassing his fortune, beginning with real estate deals in the 1950s. In later years, he bought and sold businesses including Harley-Davidson.
When the opportunity came up to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Glazer set an NFL record by doling out $192 million in 1995. He showed a vision for the future by immediately pressing for the construction of Raymond James Stadium (the site of Super Bowl 55), where games sold out for 12 consecutive seasons beginning in 1998. Beginning in 1997 under coach Tony Dungy, the Buccaneers made the playoffs in seven of 11 seasons. The highlight was winning the Super Bowl after the 2002 season with coach Jon Gruden, brought to town less than a year earlier in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.
Gruden cost the Bucs two first-round draft picks and $8 million, but making the deal was consistent with Glazer’s bold approach to business. English soccer fans would get a taste of it when he began buying up shares of the fabled Manchester United club later that year.
Malcolm Glazer never quite saw his dream come to fruition
Many Manchester United fans were understandably horrified by the prospect of a foreigner taking an interest in their beloved club, but Malcolm Glazer owned 98% of the team at a cost of approximately $1.4 billion by June 2005 and began moving to make the club publicly traded. Shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.
However, Glazer suffered multiple strokes beginning in 2006, requiring sons Joel and Bryan Glazer to take larger roles in the operations of ManU and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Malcolm Glazer died in August 2014, ownership of the Buccaneers passed to his six children.
In July 2020, Forbes estimated the value of Manchester United at $3.81 billion, making it the 10th most valuable sports team in the world. The same list pegged the Buccaneers’ value at $2.2 billion, tying for 49th in the world.
The Glazers are the sole owners of the Bucs and hold about 83% of the shares in ManU, according to Pro Football Network.
Although some soccer fans remain leery, Manchester United has won the Premier League five times, plus an FA Cup and four EFL Cups, under the Glazers’ ownership. In addition, the team has captured a UEFA Champions League title and a UEFA Europa League crown in that time.