Counterpoint: An American football fan talks Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazer family and ownership in professional sport

At the end of every NFL season, only one fan base is truly happy, leaving 31 others to wallow in the memory of what could have been.  Those feelings are compounded exponentially if you root for a team which never had a chance to begin with.

Such was the case with the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After a tantalizing 4-2 start, the team slipped into disarray.  So did its fan base.  Frustration with the Glazer family, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and incidentally Manchester United, grew with every loss, as fans watched a football team clearly incapable of winning ballgames.

The blame had to lie somewhere, so why not with ownership.  You couldn’t talk to a Bucs fan this season without Manchester United somewhere entering the conversation.  After all, most believe the Glazers’ stake in Man U. is the reason their beloved Buccaneers have suffered.  According to fans, Bucs brass failed to spend anywhere close to other NFL teams, yet still turned a healthy profit despite their abysmal record.

Here are the facts and they are indisputable.

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2003 and have not won a playoff game since

  • The Bucs continue to have problems selling out home games, only selling out two this season

  • They ranked 30th in the NFL in attendance per game

  • After starting the season 4-2, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished their season with ten straight losses

  • The Buccaneers were the only team in the league to spend under $60 million on player payroll

A growing majority of Buccaneers fans feels the Glazers aren’t spending the money needed to field a competitive team or worse yet, that they don’t care.  It’s getting harder and harder to disagree with them.

Buccaneers fans resort to calling local radio shows or writing editorials to complain, yet still go to Raymond James Stadium, albeit less frequently, to shell out nine dollars for a warm beer.  That’s the extent of our protest. Hey, we’re not going to let them spoil our good time, right?

As avid as we American season ticket holders, face-painters and trivia masters think we are, there are sports fans across the pond far more dedicated to the cause.  When the Glazers, an American family, bought Manchester United, a British football team, soccer fans immediately protested and formed their own soccer club.  How likely is it that Americans could ever be so motivated?  After all, that would require getting off the couch.

Perhaps I’m naïve but it’s hard to imagine the Glazers wouldn’t want to assemble a winning product.  Losing can’t possibly be good for long-term profitability.  Doesn’t every team owner want fans flocking to their stadium to spend discretionary income on tickets, concessions and team paraphernalia?  Just as a restaurateur wants his establishment at capacity or the owner of a dealership wants cars flying off the lot, wouldn’t the owner of a professional sports franchise want to fill up the win column?

The day the organization made former head coach Raheem Morris walk the plank, Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer addressed the media and at least seemed somewhat convincing that he wants to right the pirate ship.

I’m a sports fan in general and a Buccaneers fan in particular.  I understand that teams are a business for those who have invested hundreds of millions.  We can debate endlessly whether professional sports franchises should be run differently than other businesses because of their nature but we can’t fault the Glazers, or any other franchise owner, for trying to turn a profit.  Or can we?

The question Buccaneers fans continue to ask themselves is whether the Glazers are willing to empty their pocket books, or at least spend wisely enough to win.  Those two don’t always peacefully co-exist (see Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies), but at least it helps a team contend, one thing the Buccaneers are not.

As we saw from Mr. Dymock’s piece, nationalism kicks into high gear when it comes to our beloved sports franchises.  It makes news when a Russian owner buys the Nets or a Japanese company buys the Mariners, but with all due respect, those franchises are not Man U.  Neither are the Buccaneers.  If some international businessman wanted to buy the Yankees, Cowboys or Lakers, let’s just say it would cause a bit of a stir.

Unless those owners actually gave a damn about winning.  Then their fans probably would too.

34 thoughts on “Counterpoint: An American football fan talks Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazer family and ownership in professional sport

  1. Pingback: Sports Chump » Point: A Scottish football fan talks Manchester United, the Glazer family and ownership in professional sport

  2. Pingback: Counterpoint: An American football fan talks Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazer family and ownership in professional sport - BallHyped, NFL | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  3. You make it sound so tough! I’ve been a Lions fan my whole life!

    The ownership probably didn’t spend much because they had a pretty good season last year, plus it seemed like Freeman would only get better.

    With that being said, they stunk this year and the future doesn’t look very bright either.

  4. I guess that’s fair, AF.

    We do have a Bowl under our belt, but even that team took a long time to build.

    When we see teams like the Giants and the Patriots, loaded with talent going back to the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to owners that stop at nothing to win football games, well, losing ten straight is a hard pill to swallow.

    Times are good right now for the Lions and the sky appears to be the limit in MoTown. The same cannot be said in Tampa.

  5. I know that you’ve read my opinion of the Glazers on the previous post, but the bottom line is if the boys don’t start spending some money they won’t be able to draw flies to Ray-J despite the stench.

  6. Chris

    The Glazers are to business what Trump happens to be to politics ………….. “##ck s##t ! . These morons couldn’t find their sphincters with a flashlight ! They’re turned this franchise into garbage and as I’ve always said the fans in the area are too apathetic and intent on kissing their ##s ! Never mind the Hillsborough County Council and the city of Tampa ….. who continue to kiss their rear ends as if nothing else matters !

    Their intent is to use the franchise as source of revenue to keep their interest in Man U afloat where they still have problems albeit that the soccer club remains the most profitable sports’ franchise around the globe. [Remember the Glazers bought the team using it as collateral and have since ran up a burgeoning debt in excess of $1.355 billion ]

    I’ve been saying this ever since they assumed control of the soccer club (2005) ___ the Glazers are “morons ” and they wouldn’t know how to manage a business in the true sense of the word. Their commercial real estate business interests have been taking a steep decline for years in spite of the information they have made public . Their shopping mall empire they preside over has seen its value decline over 45% in the past five years and fans think they can run a successful sports’ franchise with any degree of responsibility ?

    On a last not who flipped Flip Saunders’ whip ? They’ve now fired his a## as Wizards’ coach . 2-15 now that’s a record to be proud of ……. LOL,LOL,LOL !!! Poor ol’ Ted Leonsis he’s getting dumber by the minute ! Why did he hire Saunders to begin with ? The Wizards’ front office has been a mess since he assumed control of the NBA franchise as its owner.

    tophatal ……….

  7. Chris

    Nationalism kicks in when it comes to foreigners purchasing US sports’ franchises ? Ah well how is it that the US electorate can be appalled by that but when it comes to the economy they couldn’t give a rat’s a@# where the vast majority of the manufactured goods that saturate the market now comes from abroad and the fact that the profits are actually repatriated back to their its country of origin other than the US ?

    Explain that one to me succinctly if you can ?

    tophatal ………

  8. Listen Chump. You make some good points here but you miss a few also.

    Like you said the Bucs are no ManU but instead they are the equivalent of the New York Yankees.

    The Yankees and ManU share many common traits including long and illustrious histories in both cases. But they also compete in sports with no real salary cap. Sure baseball has the luxury tax but this in no way limits the spending capabilities of the Yanks versus a small market team like the Brewers for example.

    The same applies in the English Premier League. Man U historically has no opponent with the financial backing to compete effectively. Many smaller Premier League teams are literally honored to simply be good enough to avoid relegation to the second division every year. And just like small market baseball teams, smaller Premier League teams will sell off their best talent to you guessed it, ManU. Each year the cycle continues, and if you’re fortunate like me to be a Yankees fan things are good. (albeit bad for the league) The end result of course is that Man U (or the Yankees) will be in the hunt for a championship nealy every season much to the chagrin of Boston or Liverpool fans.

    The same can’t be said for the Bucs of course. The salary cap has done wonders for the NFL in terms of parity and makes anything close to the Patriots’ long term success a minor miracle. It’s nearly impossible to make the playoffs more than four years running in the NFL and certainly the Glazers feel the impact of this just like any other owner.

    Are the Glazers satisfied with revenues of the Bucs despite the poor record? That’s a good question that only they can answer. Perhaps their low payroll is a strong indicator here but it’s doubtful that the success of ManU comes at the expense of the Bucs. More likely it comes as a result of bad management, poor drafts and lousy coaching like plenty of other NFL teams. Something that long term Bucs fans are all to familiar with…

    The true test for the Glazers (and Manu) will be the upcoming European rules on fiscal responsibility. If you think the Glazers had a tough time in recent years with the Man U fan base just wait these new rules take effect. At some point the Glazers won’t be able to take on rediculous amounts of debt to meet payroll as they did to acquire ManU in the first place.

    Only then will the Bucs fans and Man U supporters be on equal footing…

  9. Donald Sterling made money off the Clippers year after year even though they were always losers.

    In opening his wallet the last few years, starting with Elton Brand, it seems he has actually decided he wants to win before he croaks.

    With the drafting of Griffin and the aquisition of CP3, Chauncy,Caron Butler and re-signing od DeAndre Jordan he has seemingly changed his ways.

    It only took the dope 31 friggin years.

    Makes me appreciate Jerry Buss that much more.

  10. There are some pretty healthy rumors floating around, Aer, that the Glazers will sell soon.

    After all, within two years, they’re going to have to spend to that salary floor. That will mean cutting into the fifty million dollars they made on the team this year.

  11. Dymock…

    I’m not sure if you’re reading but Al nailed it on the head.

    His opinion is in the majority when it comes to upset Buccaneers fans.

    Sad, but true.

    And I actually thought Saunders was going to make something of that team when he first got there, Al. But then Gilbert Arenas went crazy and it all went downhill after that.

    I mean, there is literally NO talent on that roster and yes, that includes John Wall.

  12. Al…

    We actually care about both.

    You constantly hear Americans, however uninformed, complain about immigrants coming in and taking their jobs or us shipping them overseas.

    But isn’t finding labor cheaper all about cost-cutting and economic efficiency?

  13. Liar North…

    Major League Baseball will likely never see a salary cap. Not if the Steinbrenner family has anything to say about it. In essence, they and a few other teams already subsidize the rest of the league and they’re okay with that as long as they can spend, spend, spend.

    I agree with you that the salary cap has done wonders for the NFL, but that doesn’t explain why franchise like Dallas, New England, New York, Pittsburgh and San Francisco share the bulk of Super Bowl victories.

    There’s still ownership and quality decision-making within the boundaries of that cap and Bucs fans are pretty sure the Glazers have stop doing that in a manner which translates to victories on the field.

  14. Bleed…

    Just to show you how much money Jerry Buss has, that guy sits at a poker table with a million dollars and the best players in the world on the regular.

    And he dumps it.

    Yet he keeps coming back. Must be nice.

    Tonight is Clippers-Lakers in what’s slowly becoming a nice little rivalry. Nice to see since they’ve sucked for so long.

    Do you get the impression Sterling’s like “Wow, winning? You mean we can actually do this?”

  15. Chris

    Economic efficiency ? Yeah the Congress and Senat ……… made it that way with the incentives given to companies to actually reincorporate and move their productivity abroad . And then you have the candidates now making claims that no way in hell they will ever be able to back up when it comes to bringing back jobs stateside and that’s a fact !

    Romney ….. is no more a businessman than Paris Hilton can claim to be a graduate of Harvard ! If he couldn’t explain himself succinctly when it came to the economy and foreign policy i n ’08 when he lost to McCain then what makes anyone think that he’s actually changed one iota at all in that aspect ?

    Given the platitude and rhetoric from Obama last night you now the election cycle has truly began !

    The average US citizen doesn’t even understand the complexities of the economy much less what’s happening beyond their shores !

    As for the Bucs what else is there left to say at this juncture ? Other than that familial enclave of males couldn’t find their own sphincters if their very lives depended upon it !

    tophatal ……………

  16. Liar North

    Chelsea can compete with Man U when and if Abramovich truly chooses to and so too can the ownership of Man City .

    tophatal ………….

  17. Chris

    Is Sileo of 620WDAE that much of a dumb ##s ? Moron is hyping up the fans in saying that the Bucs specifically the Glazers should sell the team to Eddie Bartolo. Here’s how dumb that anally retentive Sileo just happens to be ! DeBartolo can no longer be involved with the NFL in any capacity as an owner much less as a stakeholder in any franchise subject to his conviction several years back in the corruption and bribery of elected official by the US Justice Department . And we wonder why this marketplace (Tampa) is one of such ineptitude ? The on air personalities within this locale possess the intelligence of a gnat ! Only in Tampa Chris , only in Tampa !

    tophatal ………….

  18. Some owners most value the value their franchise has at any given time…and that determines first and foremost how much money they are then willing to “take off the top” to field a competitive team. Some teams do go up in value even if you don’t field a competitive team, depending on the sport and the amount of money TV wants to fund it. These folks are not ignorant of that fact. Then…there are some owners who want to win at all costs and ignore the P & L. They are willing to invest anything and everything back into their franchise because their ego is driven more in the direction of winning games on the field…not just winning the balance sheet off it. And then…there are those “tweeners” who say they want to win…but ultimately don’t really want to “give away the farm” to do so. Frustrating to be a fan of many franchises, which now exist “for amusement purposes only.”

  19. Chris

    It’s your government I only pay my taxes , abide by the law and have fun while doing so . I’ve no wish to become a US citizen ! ‘nough said !

    tophatal ………..

  20. Al…

    I don’t get up early enough to listen to Sileo these days but it sounds like he’s just moving the dial with those statements.

    I will say this though. Duemig and Florio were talking the other day and saying that the Buccaneers still had another trick up there sleeve.

    They were right.

    Nobody saw the potential Kelly hire and I never even heard Schiano’s name mentioned as a candidate.

    But they got him.

    Sneaky little Glazers.

  21. Chris:

    It’s ain’t been easy being a Bucs fan this year.

    Despite their terrible record, my friends and I wear the jerseys, maintain reserved and support them- which is tough to do when you don’t even get to see the game because they haven’t sold enough tickets by Thursday.

    It can only get better from here..Hopefully!

  22. Wow…

    I can’t pertain to knowing too much about the Bucs, but I believe the Glazers have a specific plan for Man U which won’t need changed until their manager gives up the ghost or stops delivering the goods. He is shrewd with how he budgets his team and still wins because he is a great coach.
    Arsenal are cautious with money, have been for last 8 or so years, Liverpool spend recklessly, Chelsea blow huge amounts but never play to a fitting system and Man City are willing to spend whenever the manager wants it.

    Financial Fair play? These guys and the Real Madrids, Barcas, Milans’, Bayern Munichs, Paris St. Germains and newly plush Brazilian sides will easily find their way around salary caps. It’s old hat in Rugby, anyway- sign the player, give them a ‘job’ on the side with major sponsor, few appearances at events and they earn themselves a company car and accomodation, or a pay packet, boot deals they don’t need, massive image rights side-contracts etc. etc.

    As with real life, the elite tend to remain elite. Whilst Michel Platini of Uefa wants to ban superfluous and obscene transfer markets and astronomical contracts, Sepp Blatter, his superior at FIFA, won’t want anyone getting off the gravy train…

  23. AD…

    All that sounds pretty similar to the way it’s done over here.

    The rich get richer, the poorer teams with the more disillusioned owners suffer.

    Now in the NBA and NFL, we have salary caps but in Major League Baseball, owners can spend whatever they please.

    We’ll read news about one of our athletes signing a multi-million dollar/multi-year deal and shake our heads, until we hear about what some of the top soccer players over there are making.

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