Joe Henderson Columns
With Glazers, future is a mystery
JACKSONVILLE - Four games remain in the season for the Buccaneers, and that means the speculation about Raheem Morris' job security will likely drag on for at least another month. The Bucs qualify as one of this season's major disappointments, dragging six consecutive losses into today's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. People are already screaming about the head coach. They are questioning general manager Mark Dominik. They want change. That's just the way it is. It won't be long, I suspect, before stories pop up nationally suggesting the Bucs are eyeing other coaches to replace Morris. Since most (all?) of those stories will have no named source attached, we will have no way of knowing how much we should believe them.In times like these, it's best to tune out the noise and focus on the few who actually do know what is going on. With the Bucs, that would be the Glazers. This just in: They are not talking, at least not right now. That's no surprise. They rarely do publicly, and that does frustrate people. We probably won't hear from them until they make up their minds collectively what they want to do. Ask why this is, and the answer is always the same — privacy. It's a core value. When the Glazers finally do decide, they may let us know with a three-paragraph news release issued late on a Friday afternoon. Or they may order a lieutenant to deliver the word (particularly if Morris is coming back). That doesn't fuel the 24/7 "news" beast, but it's how they do business. Fair enough. This is how we do business, though. While a vote of confidence right now would be silly, the time is rapidly approaching when they need to publicly address issues about this team. For instance, why haven't they chosen to spend more money on better players? It's not like they don't have room under the salary cap. Just how much of a drain is Manchester United on the Bucs? Even if the answer is "not one copper cent" — which the NFL says is the truth — disillusioned fans here need to hear that pronounced loudly and forcefully from the Glazers, and then backed up with significant offseason moves to make the Bucs better. I know the Glazers have declared Manchester a forbidden subject, but people have an equal right to cry foul. The taxpayers of Hillsborough County are paying for a stadium that has enriched this family, and if something on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is negatively impacting the Bucs then the Glazers can't hide behind the "none of your business" screen. Let's pause here just a moment. I know there are many who simply don't like the Glazers, believing them cheap and only interested in fleecing every cent out of this community. I don't believe that for a second. They are good, generous citizens who donate a lot of money to many worthy causes. Many people in Tampa are better off today because of the Glazers' generosity. It's hard to like someone you don't know, though, and even after all these years the Glazers remain a mystery in their adopted home. For instance, I'll bet many of you would be stunned to find the Bucs have already announced major price cuts for season tickets in 2012. There are significant across-the-board reductions, along with other incentives. This should have been shouted from the mountaintops. But they waited until 4 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving to send out a press release with the news and made no one available from the team to talk about it. I think I know why. A news conference might have brought embarrassing questions about the team's current direction, and cynics might have chirped they only did this because the team struggles to sell tickets. Maybe so, but so what? There are always cynics and critics, and there isn't enough persuasion in the world to change that. The trick is to win over the 90 percent that haven't made up their mind, which brings us back to the question about this franchise's future. Of the four games the Bucs have left, today likely represents their best chance at a win. With each loss, fewer people muster up enough passion to even get upset about it. If the season winds up like I believe it will, the owners better move decisively and positively. If they want to keep Morris and Dominik, they need to clearly explain why that's the right thing to do. If they decide a change is needed, they need to nail their next move. Get the best man and not just the biggest name. Then let the rest of us in on it. More fans are deciding weekly the Bucs are no longer worth their time. If they expect to change that, it starts with the owners. The Glazers have to understand they can't be silent partners and expect the atmosphere to change. Everyone is entitled to privacy, but there are probably better ways to achieve it than owning a National Football League team.
Alejandro Villanueva, Steelers player and Army vet who stood alone, now has the NFL's top-selling jersey