TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Malcolm Glazer, the self-made billionaire who led the takeover of English football's Manchester United and owned the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has died. He was 85.
The Bucs said Glazer died Wednesday.
The reclusive Palm Beach, Florida, businessman had been in failing health since April 2006 when a pair of strokes left him with impaired speech and limited mobility in his right arm and leg.
Glazer raised his profile in 2005 with a $1.47 billion takeover of Manchester United that was bitterly opposed by fans of one of the world's richest football clubs. Before that, his unobtrusive management style helped transform the Bucs from a laughingstock into a model franchise that in 2003 won the Super Bowl 48-21 over the Oakland Raiders.
"The thoughts of everyone at Manchester United are with the family tonight," the team said in a statement
Born Aug. 25, 1928, in Rochester, New York, the son of a watch-parts salesman, Glazer began working for the family business when he was 8 and took over the operation as a teenager when his father died in 1943.
As president and CEO of First Allied Corp., the holding company for the family business interests, he invested in mobile-home parks, restaurants, food service equipment, marine protein, television stations, real estate, natural gas and oil production and other ventures. In March 2010, Forbes ranked him as tied for the world's 400th richest person, estimating his net worth at $2.4 billion. The magazine's separate ranking of Americans put him and his family at 139th in fall 2008.
He purchased the Bucs for a then-NFL record $192 million in 1995, taking over one of the worst-run and least successful teams in American professional sports. And while Glazer once said he probably overpaid by $50 million, the value of the team has more than quadrupled since he assumed control.
"Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization. His dedication to the community was evident in all he did, including his leadership in bringing Super Bowls to Tampa Bay," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.
In an era when many owners of professional teams attract nearly as much attention as the athletes, Glazer was content to allow three of his sons handle daily operation of the Bucs and rarely granted interviews or visited the team's offices and training facility.
But he was a fixture at Bucs games before his health declined, and he spent generously to acquire players and provide coaches and front office personnel with the resources to do their jobs. To NFL fans accustomed to the frugal ways of original Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse, Glazer was a savior.
"With our major investment here, we didn't come in here to have a loser," Glazer said after acquiring the Bucs.
In one of its boldest moves as NFL owners, the Glazer family fired Tony Dungy as coach after the 2001 season and paid a hefty price — four draft picks and $8 million cash — to the Raiders for the opportunity to sign Jon Gruden to a contract.