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Glazers enjoying life in the NFL family
[an error occurred while processing this directive] By RICK STROUD
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 26, 2000
TAMPA -- They've presided over one of the most remarkable turnarounds in professional sports, transforming a league laughingstock into a team that is well-stocked to win championships.
They have a sold-out stadium, a waiting list for season tickets and a franchise value that has nearly tripled, to more than $530-million, since they purchased the team six years ago.
But Bucs executive vice presidents Joel, Bryan and Edward Glazer prefer to remain on the sideline.
Their father, owner Malcolm Glazer, still resides in Palm Beach and is visible only on game days.
When they make headlines, it often is for unpopular strategies such as countersuing their fans or fighting property taxes. They claim to have made huge public relations gaffes they regret and still cringe over the timing of firing offensive coordinator Mike Shula at the Pro Bowl.
Like them or loathe them, they are the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their biggest goal is to turn Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 28 into just another home game.
Monday, while still bummed about the 21-17 loss to the Jets, Joel and Bryan addressed wide-ranging topics from persistent rumors that they want to sell the team ("ridiculous") to their input in football decisions and, of course, Keyshawn Johnson.
Q: Could you be more visible to the Bucs fans?
Joel: "There's a lot of things we've learned. And you'll see going forward, a lot of things being handled differently. I think we have a real connection with our fans, more so than most owners in this league. We live a normal life. Unfortunately, that's a double-edged sword because people say they don't see you around. Well, they don't see you around in the media because we're not out pounding our chests saying "Here we are.' ... In the beginning, we were a lot more visible and I think people came to expect that from us. But we've settled back to where we really wanted to be, which is, let's keep the football team in front and keep the owners in the background."
Bryan: "They're not buying tickets to come see us."
Q: Do you have a connection personally to Tampa Bay?
Joel: "We're out there every day. But we don't try to get out in front of the organization."
Q: Do you have any regrets about the way you handled the countersuit of Bucs season ticket holders, or the property tax issue?
Joel: "Every day is a learning experience. We've been at this now for five years, so it's not just yesterday. But it's a short period of time and you hit new situations where, after they're done, you look back and say, "Gee, maybe we didn't handle that properly.' You learn from them, and the question is, how do you react going forward? It's really the tell-all about people, I think. There's no question the situation could've been handled differently."
Bryan: "But in a lot of cases, we're not going to accept being the easy punching bag. We're going to defend ourselves. In that case, we were countersuing somebody.
They sued us first. And, of course, it gets twisted as to who started what. We will not stand down when people are going to attack us. Sometimes we've said, keep quiet and let it die down. But in some cases, you have to stand up for yourself."
Q: What is the state of the Bucs?
Joel: "We're at the point where we wanted to get to, where the franchise is looked at around the NFL and the country as one of the most, if not the most, respected franchises in the NFL. Selling out, having a waiting list, joining the few elite teams that have a waiting list, that's another place we wanted to get to. We've built a franchise we think everybody in the community can be proud of."
Q: Why have there been these persistent reports that the Glazers want to sell the Bucs?
Joel: "It makes for good articles. To be honest with you, that crap p----- me off. It's ridiculous. People want to get their name in the paper and to me, my reaction is enough is enough. We've been here six years, we've built this thing, people have seen everything we've gone through. And there's a lot of families who have been in the National Football League for a long time and we intend to be one of those families."
Q: What do you make of a New York Times story that Malcolm Glazer was interested in purchasing the Jets?
Joel: "That's something that was completely blown out of proportion. The way those things work in the NFL, any sale has to go through the finance committee. My father is on the finance committee. So when someone makes a comment, these things have a way of snowballing and being misreported."
Q: How much do you involve yourself in the football discussions?
Bryan: "We've like to be involved, closely involved, in everything that's going on. Key decisions and things, but also give people free rein to make decisions within the parameters that we developed. But we're very lucky. We started with Rich McKay, a general manager we work very closely with, and a coach that works closely with his general manager and all of us working together."
Q: How involved were you in the decision to fire Mike Shula at the Pro Bowl?
Joel: "After the season, we all sat down and talked and there was a lot of discussions about that topic. I think there was a lot that has been miscommunicated and misportrayed in all those situations. I'll say this much, in the end, I think it was a decision everybody agreed on.
"Looking back on the situation, to this day we all feel horrible about how the whole thing unfolded, because it'll bother me for the rest of my life. The problem is, we're the coaching staff out in the Pro Bowl and we're playing for more weeks than everybody and you need to go find another coach."
Bryan: "Coaches were getting hired at that point. Other opportunities were going by the wayside."
Q: Are you satisfied with the revenues generated by the stadium and ownership of the team?
Joel: "The important thing from a fan's perspective is a healthy franchise means you can sign Keyshawn Johnson. You can sign (Jeff) Christy. You can extend contracts. You don't blink when it comes time to do those types of things. That's critical."
Bryan: "I think when the fans see what these magazines write about where we're ranked (in franchise value), I think they want to see us ranked high. That's a pride thing. It's a list of successful franchises and it's the gold standard. If they saw us ranked 25th, they'd probably feel down. They want something first class in this community."
Q: What is the status of the new training facility? It has been three years since the stadium was completed.
Bryan: "We're close to making an announcement about the groundbreaking after the Super Bowl. The key thing with the training facility is, we're taking our time to do it right. We're going to be in this training facility for decades and if it takes an extra six months, so be it. It'll be better for everybody. And when this facility is done, it will be far and away the best in the NFL."
Q: What do you make of Keyshawn Johnson and last week's media storm?
Bryan: "We embrace Keyshawn, for who he is and what he is. That's why he's here. He's a great player and backs up everything he says on the field. He's not the reason we lost (to the Jets). Everything that happened last week, it was fun to watch.
"There was nothing bad about happened last week. We know who Keyshawn is and he brings a certain attitude to the offense that's needed."
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