Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer, who bought the team in 1995, has passed away at age 85, the team announced Wednesday. Glazer, who also owned the Manchester United soccer team, oversaw a franchise timeline that included seven playoff berths and a Super Bowl title.
According to the team, the family will retain control of the Buccaneers. Three of Glazer's sons -- Bryan, Joel and Edward -- have taken charge of the team in recent years.
One of Glazer's first decisions after purchasing the team was to hire Tony Dungy as head coach in 1996. One year earlier, the team selected Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in the first two rounds of the draft, and these moves set the Bucs on a path of success that was in sharp contrast to the years before. From 1982 through '96, the team never had a winning record, but won consistently from '97 through the next few years. The decision to fire Dungy and bring in head coach Jon Gruden in 2002 paid off handsomely, as Gruden added traction to a formerly moribund offense, and the defense that Dungy had built thrashed the Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Later years were not quite as successful, and Gruden was sent packing after the 2008 season. The nadir of the Glazer era came in 2012 and '13, when former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was hired. Schiano presided over a short era in which paranoia and alienation seemed to be the norm, but the Glazers set that right with the 2014 hire of Lovie Smith -- a successful NFL head coach in his own right and a Dungy disciple. The Bucs seemed to win free agency this year with several astute transactions, and an ostensibly successful all-offense draft may have put them in the hunt for the NFC South once again.
Glazer took over the family's watch parts business at age 15 following the death of his father, and built several investments into a fortune over time. He is survived by his wife Linda, six children and 14 grandchildren. "Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization," Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday evening. "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."