Feeling the post-binge fatigue? I am. But among those who watched and/or worked the Super Bowl as well as the parade, it’s amazing what quality night’s sleep and a deep breath can do. It makes possible a look back through the confetti to see a part of the narrative that was obvious but overlooked, yet vital to the current patter about more Super Bowls for Seattle.
It’s good to have the wealthiest owner in the NFL.
To summarize: Paul Allen bought the team, built the stadium — using tax dollars approved by voters via statewide special election that he paid for — OK’d the hires of Mike Holmgren, Tod Leiweke and Pete Carroll (who hired GM John Schneider), built on the shore of Lake Washington (for about $80 million) a gem of a practice facility/recruitment tool, played wicked guitar at the post-game party at the team hotel, then agreed to cover the costs of the parade’s extra security and clean-up.
Allen is no Malcolm Smith (a k a King of the Seventh Round Mutts), but he makes a considerable case for big-picture Most Valuable Person.
For many, it is easy to say that for a man whose net worth is listed at $15.8 billion, No. 26 on the list of Forbes wealthiest Americans, Allen should be able to pay for all things ball the moment his feet hit the floor in the morning, then order breakfast. Just as it is true that his original Seahawks investment of $194 million in 1997 is now worth more than $1 billion. So if/when he sells, it will go down as one of his best post-Microsoft plays.
But the fact is, a man of many interests also chose the NFL gig. More important, he chose to stay the hell out of micro-managing an enterprise in which he has no expertise. A glance around the league shows what can happen when owners blunder — to cite three examples, Jerry Jones in Dallas, Dan Snyder in Washington and whatever is happening in Cleveland.
In his other major sports ownership, he used to be more hands-on, with more dubious results. He’s owned the NBA Portland Trail Blazers since 1988, and has yet to win a championship, with only two appearances in the Finals (1990, 1992).
The faithful in Portland were much like the 12th Man in Seattle — 21 consecutive years of sellouts. But as controversies raged (remember the Jail Blazers?), ardor waned and calls came for Allen to sell the team (sound familiar, Mariners fans?). Now the Blazers have their best team in years — 35-14, the NBA’s fifth-best record — and hope flares anew.
In Seattle, he’s a winner in a manner that has the post-Super Bowl talk all about the possibility of multiple championships with the NFL’s fourth-youngest team. But important as is retaining free agents such as WR Golden Tate and DL Michael Bennett, it is more important to keep the management team in place.
As in Pete Carroll. He’s entering the final year of the five-year he signed to leave USC.
In his final press conference after the parade Wednesday, Carroll was asked his what his position was regarding an extension.
“I’m sitting in great shape,” he said, repeating, “I’m in great shape.”
Whatever that means isn’t clear, but it does not suggest a need for ooga horns. Carroll knows he has landed a sweet gig that is paying him $7 million, which is supposedly second only to the$7.5 million of New England’s Bill Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid, and equal to Jeff Fisher in St. Louis and John Harbaugh in Baltimore.
After winning a Super Bowl, making Carroll the game’s highest-paid coach should be a no-brainer. Since there is no salary cap on coaches, or on facilities, or anything else but player salaries, Allen can do right by Carroll and his assistants as well as the franchise by committing to extensions that assure stability, which only adds to the attractiveness of the Seahawks.
Besides the region-wide tidal wave of endorphins created between 700,000 fans and about 100 or so members of the Seahawks clan, the group hug Wednesday sent a message to NFL free-agent players that the Seahawks already understood — the epicenter of the NFL potentially has shifted to the Northwest.
The Seahawks are the 19th franchise to win a Super Bowl. Only 12 have won twice; eight, more than twice. Intense as was the celebration, so was the urgency to get the second crown.
In an interview with Forbes before the Super Bowl, Allen, 61, who has twice survived episodes of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, hinted at his own urgency.
“This is my fourth chance for a championship, twice with the Trail Blazers and now my second time with the Seahawks,” he said. “It would be incredibly exciting and satisfying to bring home the trophy for the fans and the city and the region. I’m excited, but we’re up against a very strong opponent and you never know how these things will turn out.
“At one point, I was the youngest owner in major league sports. I’m not that anymore. These chances don’t come along often. So when they do, you really want to get over the hump and bring home the trophy.”
With a salary cap, no one can buy his way to an NFL championship. But with an owner whose net worth is three times greater than the next-richest owner, Stan Kroenke of the St. Louis Rams, a second hump is eminently scalable when resources are maximized, interference minimized and urgency is upon all.
Perhaps that is what Carroll meant about being in great shape.