Glazer buys no friends here

January 18, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

When he was campaigning for the hearts and minds of Baltimoreans, Malcolm Glazer apparently knew he had his work cut out for him.

Glazer, a Rochester, N.Y., native living in Palm Beach, Fla., faced suspicion he was just another mercenary in a city with plenty of reason to be wary of out-of-town sports team owners.

So he went out of his way to compliment the city and assure his support and loyalty -- until he bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In comments widely rebroadcast in Baltimore yesterday, Glazer said he's glad he didn't get a team here.

"When we were working on the expansion franchise in Baltimore and we didn't get it, a reporter came up to me after we found out the bad news and asked how we felt. I said, 'I'm going to go home and cry,' " Glazer said at Monday's news conference announcing his purchase of the Bucs.

"Well, I'm glad I had that cry, because if we had gotten the team, I wouldn't be here today and I sure as heck would rather own a team in Tampa than I would in Baltimore."

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad said he wasn't surprised by Glazer's critical statements.

"His comments were certainly in character and not out of character. It's just as easy for him to love Baltimore as it is to love San Diego and Pittsburgh or Boston," Belgrad said, referring to other cities where Glazer had sought pro sports teams.

"He always seems to say the wrong thing," added Belgrad, who had some trouble persuading Glazer to contribute the $50,000 other ownership groups gave to the city's expansion effort.

Yesterday, Glazer said he suggested the two-year "no move" pledge in his sales contract with the Bucs.

"When we came in here to give our bid, we wanted to show immediately that we were sincere," he said. "We didn't want to be painted with a Baltimore brush, and we asked to put that in."

It was a change of heart for Glazer, who in August 1992 said: "I believe in Baltimore or I wouldn't be here. Baltimore is the proper city for the league to have a franchise."

Frustrated with his image as an outsider, Glazer took the very public step that year of buying $40,000 worth of instruments for the Baltimore Colts' Band, a powerful symbol of the city's NFL lust.

"Our family's mission has been to bring the NFL back to Baltimore," he said in giving the instruments.

Glazer's son Joel, who lives in Bethesda, often reminded people that he and his brother, Bryan, would move to Baltimore if the family got a team. "No Vail," Joel Glazer said, in a barb aimed at competing bidder Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, a Baltimore native living in Aspen, Colo.

"People don't understand that our heart's always been in Baltimore because we grew up in Rochester, N.Y., watching all the great Orioles players come through Rochester with the Red Wings," Bryan Glazer once said. "We've always cared about this city."

During an NFL preseason game at Memorial Stadium, the Glazers handed out white pompons emblazoned with "The Glazer Family Says Give Baltimore the Ball." At NFL functions, they wore name tags with the same message.

Regarding Glazer's statements Monday, Colts band leader John Ziemann said, "It was a very classless thing to do, to kick Baltimore when it was down. I was surprised because I've met Mr. Glazer and his family and I thought they were a class act from the beginning."

CHANGE OF HEART?

* "Baltimore is the proper city for the league to have a franchise."

-- Malcolm Glazer, Aug. 1992

* "We didn't want to be painted with a Baltimore brush."

-- Malcolm Glazer, Jan. 1995

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