's Super Bowl XXXV coverage

Sources: DeBartolo joins group seeking Bucs

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr. is trying to position his re-entry into the NFL by joining a group that wants to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but former president Bill Clinton may have hurt DeBartolo's chances by denying his petition for a presidential pardon from his felony conviction in 1998, league sources tell ESPN.

DeBartolo, who now lives in the Tampa area, has been linked with the founders of the Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain that was reported last week by Tampa radio station WDAE 620 to have already reached a purchase agreement of the Buccaneers with the transaction to be announced after Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.

The Buccaneers denied the report and said the team was not for sale.

However, league sources do give the story some credence; at the very least, they say DeBartolo and the Outback founders have made a bid for the Bucs in the $600 million to $700 million range. The same sources also believe Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer always has been a candidate to sell the club because he's never been a "football purist" and his "history in business has been to buy and sell for profit." Glazer purchased the Bucs for $180 million.

Glazer also recently underwent a surgical procedure for a heart problem, though sources are not sure if health is a major factor in any consideration to sell the franchise.

If DeBartolo is part of any group buying a team, he could run into obstacles getting the blessing of commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFL owners because he is a convicted felon. Thus, sources say he applied for a pardon, but Clinton did not grant one before leaving office last weekend.

DeBartolo pleaded guilty on Oct. 8, 1998, in federal court to a single felony count of failing to report an extortion attempt by former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in an attempt to get a riverboat gambling license. The presiding judge fined DeBartolo $1 million, as did Tagliabue, who also suspended the 49ers owner for a year. DeBartolo then sold his share of the 49ers to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, to settle a family dispute. HELP | ADVERTISER INFO | CONTACT US | TOOLS | SITE MAP

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