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Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not for sale, owners say

Real estate magnate and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo said he would be interested if the Glazer family did decide to sell the team.

October 30, 2009|Sam Farmer

The Glazer family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said Thursday that their team is not for sale and called a radio report to that effect "100% false."

If the Buccaneers were to hit the sales block, however, one of the most successful owners in NFL history said he was interested.

"If a situation came about with something as close as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I would be a moron not to at least look into it and be somewhat interested," said Eddie DeBartolo, contacted by The Times before the Buccaneers denied the swirling rumors of a sale.

DeBartolo, who lives in the Tampa area, owned the San Francisco 49ers from 1977 to 2000, when he sold his share of the team to his sister. He had a reputation for spending whatever was required to win, making him enormously popular with his players and coaches. His 49ers became the NFL's first franchise to win five Super Bowls.

DeBartolo, 62, is a real estate magnate and mall developer who divides his time between homes in Tampa, Los Angeles and Montana. Forbes Magazine estimates his net worth at $1.25 billion and ranks him as the 317th richest American.

"If [the Glazers] are interested in selling, and they're very serious about it, of course we have a small syndicate that would be interested in it," he said.

In 1998, DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to report that Louisiana's former governor, Edwin Edwards, had extorted money from him to win a casino license. The NFL then fined DeBartolo $1 million and suspended him for the 1999 season. That effectively ended his relationship with the team.

An informal sampling of NFL owners in recent years indicates they would be willing to welcome him back.

"The feeling I get from people is nothing but good," he said. "I can't say that goes for the whole league, but I have a lot of friends . . . I'm sure I have my detractors, and I'm sure I have my friends. Personally, I don't think that would be a problem."

-- Sam Farmer

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