RENTON Man, do the Seahawks appreciate Paul Allen right about now.
That was clear about the team’s owner well before Friday. It became even more crystallized when Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said of the NFL player protests over the mistreatment of minorities and the need for police reform: “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
“I am appreciative of Paul. Very appreciative of Paul,” All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said following practice for Sunday’s game against, yes, Texan that are coming to Seattle more than a tad ticked at the guy who signs their checks.
“I feel like we have a great organization here,” Wagner said.
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While McNair inserts his expensive shoe in his mouth, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones threatens to bench any player who protests by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem recently, Allen lets the Seahawks be themselves. Whoever and whatever that is, and it’s plenty.
The co-founder of Microsoft who also owns the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers hasn’t interfered or made any statements while Michael Bennett has been sitting during anthems before games since mid-August, nor while the Seahawks’ entire defensive line has joined him recently.
Everyone keeps playing, and winning. The Seahawks have been to five consecutive postseasons. They’ve been to two of the last four Super Bowls, winning the franchise’s first NFL championship following the 2013 season.
“He sweeps the path clear,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday of Allen.
Now, it’s true Allen not only doesn’t have the inclination he doesn’t have the time to meddle in the affairs of players or even coaches. Nor the interests. His are elsewhere, all over the world. He’s out donating millions and time to ocean conservation and research, to brain institutes to find cures for Alzheimer’s and dementia, to combat Ebola, to Washington State University for the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and recently $50 million to the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. That’s just to name a few.
While Texans coach Bill O’Brien was trying to contain the mess of angry players on the eve of a game--and, to his credit, stating Friday he was “100 percent” backing his players--I asked Carroll how appreciative he is of having Allen as his owner.
“In every way,” Carroll said.
“How he allows us to work. How he allows us to do our business. It’s as first-class as you can get. He sweeps the path clear. We have no excuses, nothing, that we could ever state that’s in our way. His support with John (Schneider, the general manager), myself, and with (team president) Peter McLoughlin, he’s just been stellar. And our fans are lucky to have his support the way he is.
“He cares so much about the area, it’s always what’s best for the area and our fans first; that’s how he thinks and operates. We just follow along, and it just fits beautifully. We’re very fortunate and he has a very good sense for what’s going on, and he always wants to know where he can help and support in every way too.
“To me, he’s awesome.”
Then-Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke told Carroll when he was wooing him to take the Seattle coaching and executive vice-president jobs in January 2010 that Allen would be like this.
Carroll said his owner’s been even better than Leiweke, now an NFL executive in New York, advertised.
“Yeah. I didn’t have the capacity to imagine that it could be this smooth and this supportive and all of that. I didn’t. I couldn’t understand,” Carroll said. “But Tod Leiweke had done a great job of prepping me and stuff.
“It’s better than even I could’ve anticipated.”
Last month, the Seahawks were celebrating Allen’s 20th year owning the team and saving it and from moving to Anaheim. I asked franchise quarterback Russell Wilson what the co-founder of Microsoft means to him.
“Obviously, Paul Allen’s support of our football team and what he’s been able to do for the city of Seattle, I’ve been grateful ever since I got the first call,” Wilson said of being this team’s third-round draft choice in 2012. “I remember John, Paul, Coach Carroll, being able to receive that call and just the emotion and excitement and everything else, I’ll never forget that. I’ll also never forget the excitement when we won the NFC Championship going to our first Super Bowl, and winning the Super Bowl and the energy that he had and everything.
“Also, what’s great about Paul, too, is that after games, he’s in the locker room just congratulating guys and everything. I think the thing that Paul does best, too, is that--obviously, he does things all over the world for the community and everything else--but in terms of our football team, he really allows Coach Carroll, John Schneider, and the coaches and players to be passionate about what we’re doing. That’s why our culture is about winning. Paul and everything that he has done in his life has been about winning, in a different way, but it’s been about winning.
“I think that’s the culture that Paul Allen and Coach Carroll and John Schneider bring to the table for us as players.”
The Texans aren’t having many winning thoughts about Bob McNair right now.