Tampa, Florida -- Malcolm Glazer, the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has passed away at the age of 85, the team announced on Wednesday.
The reclusive Palm Beach 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.
The Glazer family bought the Bucs in 1995 for a then-NFL record of $192 million. And while Glazer once said he probably overpaid by $50 million, the value of the team has more than quadrupled since he assumed control.
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.
"Malcolm Glazer was the guiding force behind the building of a Super Bowl-champion organization," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "His dedication to the community was evident in all he did, including his leadership in bringing Super Bowls to Tampa Bay."
"He was a friend and a trailblazer," Jon Gruden, who coached the Super Bowl-winning team, said of Glazer in a statement through his current employer, ESPN. "I'll miss him and I thank him for believing in me."
Three of Glazer's sons — Bryan, Edward and Joel — are co-chairmen of the Bucs and have been involved in the club's operations since the family bought the team. His daughter, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, is co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation, which has donated millions to charitable education causes in the Tampa community since its start in 1999, the team said.
Glazer raised his profile with a $1.47 billion takeover of Manchester United that was bitterly opposed by fans of one of the world's richest soccer clubs in 2005. The team won five EPL championships and a Champions League title since he bought the team.
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.
Glazer leaves behind his wife, Linda, six children and 14 grandchildren.
The Bucs' statement says a private funeral service will be held, with "the opportunity for others to remember and celebrate Mr. Glazer's life will be announced a future date."
Also in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to All Children's Hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Tampa.
Condolences to the Glazer have been pouring in on Wednesday afternoon. In a series of tweets, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described Glazer as "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," he also tweeted. "Malcolm's commitment to the Bucs, the NFL and the people of the Tampa Bay region are the hallmarks of his legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Linda, their six children and the entire Glazer family.
Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris released this statement Wednesday:
"I appreciate the opportunity that was given to me by Mr. Glazer and his family from when I arrived in 2002 up until my departure. He was always very supportive and his family has been great to me. I send my prayers and thoughts to his wife, Linda, and his six beautiful children -- his sons, Ed, Joel, Bryan, Kevin and Avie and his daughter, Darcie."
"He was a friend and always a gentleman," New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who served with Glazer on the finance committee, said in a statement. "He was passionate about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
"I will remember Malcolm Glazer as someone whose influence made a lasting impact on both ends of the Atlantic in the world's two greatest sports leagues, the National Football League and the Barclays Premier League," Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who also owns former EPL club Fulham, said in a statement. "But his greatest legacy may be in the state of Florida, where I am now fortunate to own the Jacksonville Jaguars. Malcolm brought to our state the Bucs, Super Bowls and of course a world championship in 2002. In essence, he helped turn a good football state into a great football state. He will be missed but always admired."
Tampa Chamber President & CEO Bob Rohrlack released a statement on Glazer's passing:
"Under the ownership of Malcolm Glazer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerged from the shadows to become a Super Bowl winning franchise with a legacy of talented players. In addition to Glazer's success with the Bucs, he was a philanthropic force in our community. The Glazer Family Foundation has a tremendous impact on our community through contributing millions of dollars in support to organizations throughout Central Florida. Our thoughts are with his wife Linda, their family and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization during this time."
"I am saddened to hear about the news of Malcolm Glazer's passing. I knew him very well and respected him as a businessman and as a Super Bowl-winning owner. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," Washington Redskins' owner Dan Snyder said in a statement Wednesday.
"Mr. Glazer was a self-made business genius with a great sense of humor and an obvious love for his family and all children. The Glazer Children's Museum will continue to create a tremendous impact on all children for years to come," said Redskins President Bruce Allen.
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The Associated Press, and USA TODAY contributed to this report.