The headline was undeniably eye-catching — “Bezos interested in Seahawks? Maybe. NFL interested in Bezos? Definitely.’’
That the story saying that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos “has expressed an interest in buying the Seahawks’’ was published in a newspaper he owns — The Washington Post — seemed to give it just that much more validity, as did a quote in the story from one of the most powerful men in the league, New England owner Robert Kraft, that “I’m sure that eventually it would be in everyone’s best interests if someone that’s as community-oriented as him gets involved in the Seattle situation.’’
So is it time to start wondering if you can get a free Prime membership with your season ticket?
Not just yet. If ever.
To help sort through it all, here’s a little question-and-answer addressing some of the key issues.
Q: Are the Seahawks for sale?
A: No, they are not. The team has insisted this at every turn since Paul Allen died in October 2018, leaving his holdings in a trust that is overseen by his sister, Jody. And sources close to the situation insisted again in the wake of the Bezos story that the team is not for sale and that there has been no change in Jody Allen’s commitment to continue owning the team, which Paul Allen purchased in 1997.
The NFL lists the owner of the Seahawks as the Paul G. Allen Trust, with Jody Allen listed as the chair of the trust.
The Seahawks’ media guide states in Jody Allen’s biography that as chair of the trust “Jody Allen is responsible for preserving and implementing Paul Allen’s vision for generations to come.”
There has been nothing to indicate she is wavering from that.
Q: How is Jody Allen been regarded so far as an owner, anyway?
A: Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have referred to Jody Allen in only exceedingly laudatory terms so far.
Carroll admitted he barely knew Jody Allen before Paul died. But he said meetings with Jody to discuss his contract extension — which he signed Dec. 24 — made him only more excited about the future of the franchise. Carroll is signed through the 2021 season.
Schneider has publicly noted Jody Allen’s support in key times on several occasions.
He said on his radio show that Jody Allen let the team use her plane to fly Jadeveon Clowney from Houston to Seattle to get his trade completed more quickly.
Maybe even more critical was her signing off on a key aspect of quarterback Russell Wilson’s new contract — a no-trade clause, something exceedingly rare by NFL standards, and which more than tying Wilson to the Seahawks means he essentially has veto power if the team were to ever want to trade him before his contract runs out in 2023.
“It’s something that I needed to discuss with Jody,” Schneider said at the time.
That she signed off on it helped get the deal done by the April 15 deadline Wilson had set.
One league source said moments such as that helped illustrate that if anything, Jody Allen has seemed more gung-ho about owning the team than many might have expected, and that she may be even more willing to take some “win-now” style risks than was Paul. Wilson’s contract made him the highest-paid player in NFL history at $35 million a year and included a $65 million signing bonus that had to be paid immediately.
Asked about his relationship with Jody Allen last winter, Schneider said: “She has been amazing. She’s real responsive. She is into it. She’s aligned. She wants to win. It’s been great in that regard.’’
It’s possible some around the league have raised questions about her commitment simply because Jody Allen, like Paul, is pretty private. She has done no interviews since taking over the team and, like Paul, isn’t a daily presence in the team’s affairs, the way Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is in Dallas.
Bert Kolde, who was a close friend of Paul Allen’s, remains as the Seahawks’ vice chair and is essentially the daily conduit between Allen and the team. He attends most games, generally sitting in on postgame news conferences.
But while Jody Allen has said nothing publicly, she made a pretty big symbolic statement when she raised the 12 Flag before the Rams game in October when Paul Allen was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Many longtime observers of the Allen family and the team viewed that as her “coming out party” and her way of making it clear she is fully engaged with the team (and at 61 years old, there’s no reason she can’t hang on to the team for a long time).
She did release a statement at that time saying in part: “The Seahawks and the 12s are part of what makes Seattle such an exciting city and fantastic community, and the community and the fans were at the forefront of Paul’s mind when he purchased the Seahawks.’’
Q: Are there other female owners in the NFL?
A: Yes. While the league gets some deserved criticism for its doings that sometimes lead to claims of being an “Old Boys’ Club,” there has been a strong female presence in team ownership in the league for decades.
The league, in fact, this year produced a documentary on four female owners with longtime associations with their teams: the Kansas City Chiefs’ Norma Hunt, the Chicago Bears’ Virginia Halas McCaskey, the Detroit Lions’ Martha Ford and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Patricia Rooney.
The Houston Texans also list Janice McNair as their Senior Chair, the Tennessee Titans list Amy Adams Strunk as their controlling owner, Gayle Benson is owner of the New Orleans Saints and Denise DeBartolo York is the co-chair of the 49ers.
Q: What are the Seahawks worth?
A: Forbes Magazine, in its annual NFL franchise evaluations, estimated the worth of the Seahawks at $2.8 billion in September, 15th in the NFL.
Paul Allen purchased the team in 1997 for $194 million. So, yes, football has been pretty good to the Allen family.
Forbes listed Allen’s estate as worth $20.3 billion, meaning the Seahawks — while a pretty big deal — were basically about one-tenth of his holdings, even despite their vast increase in value during his 21-year tenure as owner.
Bezos, meanwhile, had an estimated net worth of $109.6 billion last month by Forbes. And what’s clear is that the NFL would like to get its hands on some of that money, with Thursday’s story also seeming to indicate that Bezos might be intrigued at the idea of becoming part of one of the most exclusive groups in the world — one of 32 owners of an NFL franchise.
So, should the Seahawks ever become available, he can afford them.
But there is zero indication that day is coming anytime soon.