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The rumors infuriate the team owners, who say they're in Tampa to stay: "We like living here. We're die-hard fans.''


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001

TAMPA -- As far as the brothers Glazer are concerned, this is where the rumors about the Bucs stop.

Malcolm Glazer
The team is not for sale.

It has not been for sale since the family purchased it.

It will not be for sale.

Got it?

Angry about rumors that will not go away, Joel and Ed Glazer, executive vice presidents of the Bucs, launched a counterassault Tuesday afternoon. The Bucs, they said, will be owned by the Glazers for some time to come.

For weeks there has been speculation -- fueled by radio chat -- that the team would be sold to former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, who supposedly would have been joined in his efforts by Outback owners Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham.

"That is absolutely, positively, completely false," Joel Glazer said, bumping his right fist onto his desk as he spoke. Behind him was a bookshelf that held an autographed football and two Bucs helmets.

"This is something that seems to pop up every six months. This is the last time we're going to address it. The team is not for sale. We've been here six years. We like living here. We love football. We're die-hard fans."

Not only do the Glazers deny the rumor, so does DeBartolo.

"I've never spoken to the Glazers about this," DeBartolo said Tuesday night. "I think it's a true, true injustice to Malcolm Glazer and his family, especially this week."

The rumors, Joel said, began six months after the Glazer family purchased the team and have not ceased. Even Bucs players have wondered about the speculation in the weeks since the team's season concluded.

"Rumors come along, but this one has stayed," Ed Glazer said. "It's like someone saying you're selling your house. And you say, no, you aren't. But then the neighbors hear it, and they're asking if you're selling. And then people are asking your price. Well, there is no price."

Ed Glazer said that when he returned to work Monday, he had 15 telephone calls asking what was going on. Joel Glazer said that when he went to the NFL Experience on Saturday, fans repeatedly approached him to ask if the rumors were true.

Why do people seem to believe them? For one thing, DeBartolo has moved to Tampa. For another, his teams were wildly successful, winning five Super Bowls while he owned the 49ers.

However, DeBartolo lost his team after being indicted for bribery in a casino scandal in Louisiana. Whether he could be approved as an owner is open to speculation. Not only that, DeBartolo said he is unsure if he wants to get back into football.

"I remember riding around Canton with Joe Montana, and he said, "You're just like me, you're retired," DeBartolo said. "We're in the development business. Football is a 12-month-a-year job. I don't know if football is in my future. You never say never."

DeBartolo, who describes himself as "a Bucs boxholder and fan," said that, from time to time, fans approach him and tell him he should buy the team. But he says it has never gone beyond that.

"The Glazers have done a great job," DeBartolo said. "I talked to Rich McKay the other night, and Tony (Dungy) is a friend of mine. I casually made the Glazers' acquaintance five, six years ago. They're a very successful, high-grade family."

As for the Glazers, they say they love being NFL owners. Yes, the second half of the rumor says they would attempt to get a team in Los Angeles, but the Los Angeles area has shown little interest in building a stadium. And with a 32nd team joining the league next year, the NFL appears to be giving no thought to further expansion.

"(The rumor is) preposterous," Joel Glazer said. "It doesn't make any sense. There are only 32 of these. You don't give one of these up and then go get another one, as a lot of owners who have left have found out. We enjoy this too much. We love football. We're die-hard fans. We get as excited as anyone, and if we lose, we get as upset as anyone."

The rumors, too, have upset them. As has the silence from the others involved in them.

"I'm a little disappointed with certain people in this town who have not spoken up whenever their names have popped up," Joel Glazer said. "You begin to wonder a few things. Motivation. Are people doing this to get their names in the paper? Are they unable to let things go?"

Beyond the DeBartolo rumors, the Glazers said the team is not for sale to anyone for any price.

"There is not one person on this entire planet who we have talked to about selling the team," Ed Glazer said. "Not on this planet or any other planet. Not in the galaxy or the solar system. No little green men. No one."

So how long can you expect the Glazers to be in charge of the Bucs?

"How long has the Mara family owned the Giants?" asked Joel Glazer, 34. "Seventy years? Eighty years? Those sound like good numbers."

"We should own this team beyond us being alive," said Ed Glazer, 31. "And we're young."

Today's Super Bowl story lineup

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  • Meet the men behind the bowl: Wilson
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  • The road of the rookie
  • Spotlight on Tampa
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