Jenna Laine, ESPN Staff Writer 353d

Bucs' late owner Malcolm Glazer played instrumental role in organization's overhaul

TAMPA, Fla -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are inducting late owner Malcolm Glazer into the Buccaneer Ring of Honor during the Thursday night game against the New England Patriots.

His family will take part in a halftime ceremony that will include Glazer's name being unveiled atop the northeast corner of Raymond James Stadium.

Glazer died in 2014 at the age of 85. He is one of two additions to the Buccaneer Ring of Honor this year, with former Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden set for induction later this season.

When Glazer purchased the Bucs in 1995, for a then-record $192 million, the team was the laughingstock of the league. He had an opportunity to move the team but didn't. He saw potential and he recognized the fans' passion.

"The team had had such a long history of losing, and yet, 35,000-40,000 fans were still showing up week-to-week coming to the games," said co-chairman Bryan Glazer.

"That showed a lot. That core base of fans that were there all the time through thick and through thin was a great start," Glazer said. "We knew if we started winning, the rest would come and it did."

One of Bryan Glazer's favorite stories about his father? The time he locked his keys in his car at a Lakeland, Florida fast food joint in 1995.

"A fan had walked up to my father and said, 'Hello' and had recognized him," Glazer said. "My father decided that he was going to give him the shirt he was wearing -- he was wearing a Bucs polo shirt. So he walked to the back of the car, took off the shirt he was wearing, gave it to the fan, changed into another shirt and the fan walked away."

"My father closed the trunk with the keys in the car," Glazer said. "They had to walk to the local police station ... [and] they were very helpful in helping him open the trunk of the car. But you could truly say that my father gave the shirt off his back for our fans."

Within three seasons of Glazer's purchase and two under then-head coach Tony Dungy, the Bucs were in the playoffs. The Bucs had only gone to the playoffs three times before, but once Glazer took over, they reached the postseason five times in six seasons: 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, one of the more remarkable achievements in professional sports.

Steering the ship meant making difficult decisions, like firing Dungy and making a blockbuster trade to land Jon Gruden as head coach. While it seemed like a questionable move at the time and cost them several key draft picks, it brought them a Super Bowl berth and a Lombardi Trophy after the 2002 season.

Prior to Glazer's arrival, the Bucs had a .300 winning percentage, the worst in the NFL. From 1995 until 2007, that number shot up to .524. Between 1999 and 2002, the Bucs were .656 (42-22), the thirst-best winning percentage in the league.

"He had a vision, he had the guts, he had the courage to make this purchase and change the destiny of this franchise," said Gruden. "The leadership that Malcolm Glazer had, the genuine care that he had for me as a person -- it will never be forgotten."

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