Talking with Tod Leiweke about Paul Allen, I said one guy I thought might have a chance to get to know Allen, who was hard to know, was Marshawn Lynch. Leiweke smiled.
“They clicked,” he said.
Techno-geek and Beast Mode?
Yes. Forget superficial things such as race, age, looks and background. They share a characteristic. They are limitless, and know it.
It’s a rare thing, by dint of genes and genius, that certain individuals blow past the boundaries of their worlds to be as certain of themselves as they are certain they can’t be stopped.
It’s not true, of course. Allen died Monday in Seattle. Lynch Sunday in London was slowed to 45 yards in 13 carries by the Seahawks, his old team.
But outcomes aren’t merely the sum and substance of outliers and iconoclasts who shed limits. It’s what their limitlessness can provide others.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, another outlier, said Tuesday after returning from London, “He wanted you to go for it. He didn’t want you to hold back. He wanted, at all times, to be pushing ahead.”
He was talking about Allen. But was that not an apt description of Lynch?
It’s not a surprise that Lynch and Allen seemed to understand each was to his world as the other was to his.
To a younger Seahawks fan, Allen may seem more establishment than iconoclast. But before he was old as Lynch is now, he and partner Bill Gates had thrust the personal computer into the lives of millions, to the astonishment and dismay of IBM, then the industry colossus that had rebuffed them.
Consider it a Beast Quake run, full of broken tackles and stiff-arms, with pocket protectors.
Big dog rest easy as you go home @PaulGAllen prayers for your family🙏🏾
— Shawn Lynch (@MoneyLynch) October 15, 2018
The innovations of Gates and Allen that launched Microsoft provided the resources that Allen used to transform South Lake Union real estate, buy the Seahawks and the Trail Blazers, create The Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. And MoPop.
Before all of that, he wanted to be fellow Seattleite Jimi Hendrix.
“Paul was cooler than I was,” wrote Gates in blog post Monday. “He was really into Jimi Hendrix as a teenager, and I remember him playing Are You Experienced? for me. I wasn’t experienced at much of anything back then, and Paul wanted to share this amazing music with me.
“That’s the kind of person he was. He loved life and the people around him, and it showed.”
The eclectic tastes, the eccentrism, the avoidance of the banal were hallmarks of Allen’s work before long Lynch showed up in Seattle. But it made a great workplace for the Beast in the otherwise rigid corporate culture typical of the NFL.
“We’ve been a little bit different around here,” Carroll said. “Paul didn’t want to be the same as everybody else. He wanted to do special, unique. Whenever we were going through whatever the phases that we’ve been through, he was always supportive.
“He was never embarrassed by something that a player would say or how they acted. He knew that there was a time and a place, if we could deal with it properly. He always felt that we could work our way through things if we were really resourceful.
“For me, I knew that I could free-wheel and figure out stuff and go for it and throw the ideas by him. Almost always, he would have suggestions, but always be in support of not trying to be like everybody else. We fit very well together in that sense.”
When Leiweke, then the Seahawks CEO, was in pursuit of Carroll, the USC coach (and “King of Los Angeles” as he was known), to succeed Jim Mora as Seahawks coach, the two met for dinner in the back yard of the LA home of Leiweke’s brother, Tim. Eventually, the negotiation climaxed with a phone call to Allen.
“He was going to clear it for us to have a great chance to do great things,” Carroll said. “He wanted to win championships, and that’s what he was all about. He wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. The message that came through was really one that I hadn’t heard in that fashion (from other NFL owners), with that commitment and that spirit of it.
“That’s what made it even possible to even be in the conversation about it. I found trust early in that conversation. That relationship became one that was so well-founded, as I learned later on.”
The freedom contrarian Allen gave to contrarian Carroll to execute his vision, which included the trade for contrarian Lynch, helped make for the explosive football energy that captivated Seattle and the rest of the NFL. With each passing season, the historic glow from the combustion seems to grow more intense.
“The extraordinary wealth that came (his) way . . . opened a doorway for him to give back to the place that he was so connected to,” Carroll said. “He did it in any way he could. He’s always been that way. It happened to come out in the world of sports, and his fantastic franchise that he was able to construct, and the stadium and the 12s.
“It’s been a blast being part of it.”
Few of us can be limitless. But it’s good to be close by when limitless people get together.