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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Seahawks owner Paul Allen on buying Mariners, NBA in Seattle, Super Bowl

Here’s more from my interview last week with Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, including his take on whether to buy the Mariners.

Paul Allen last week in his offices overlooking CenturyLink Field. Photo by John Lok, Times staff photographer.

Paul Allen last week in his offices overlooking CenturyLink Field. Photo by John Lok, Times staff photographer.

This should end my recent stint in sports, and this channel will return to its regularly scheduled programming shortly.

But first, here are some edited excerpts from the interview that didn’t fit into Sunday’s story:

Q: Your take on Percy Harvin, the Seahawks star receiver who has been mostly sidelined by injuries?

A: He’s an amazing athlete. I think everybody on the team was impressed by what he can do. I was just really disappointed he had those two tough hits in the [New Orleans Saints] game.

Q: Players’ health is one of the things you talk about with Coach Pete Carroll.

A: I really do care about the health of the players. That’s one of the tough things about the NFL — it’s so physically tough on the players. The careers are usually on the shorter side. Anything we can do to help with their physical therapy and all that is really important. I’m trying to do some things with my brain institute to understand more about the impact of concussion on brain tissue, because we have some scientists over there who are really good at looking at brain tissue and the effects of things on brain tissue.

Q: Did that become more of a priority after you got to know some of these players on a personal level?

A: I remember one time I saw Shaun Alexander [in the locker room] after he had a concussion. You’re aware of it but I think understanding what the right protocol needs to be — I think that is something the league is seeing evolving and that we’re all seeing evolving. We’re all trying to do right by the players, understanding that it’s a very tough physical game. If you’re an owner and you see, like, Percy — that first hit, that drew the penalty in the last [Saints] game, personally your instinct is “‘why is that only a 15 yard penalty? Shouldn’t it be more than that?’” But anyway, that’s for the league to evaluate and figure out in the future.

Q: Steve Ballmer seems pretty focused on basketball. What do you think about his chances of getting a pro basketball team in Seattle?

A: I’ve tried to do whatever I could to help Steve  become an NBA franchise owner, but these days it’s harder than it may have been previously to move teams, in part because when the Sonics left Seattle for Oklahoma it really, it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth.

So I think the league — my feeling, but it can change — is the league. If there’s good local support for the team, they want to do right by the fans, if there’s a good potential ownership group in that town. So we’ll see. I think Steve would make a great major league team owner because he is so passionate.”

Q: What do you think about the Mariners ownership? I wonder how much longer Nintendo will have interest in owning a baseball team.

A: Two sports teams for me is really, I think, my maximum. No one’s ever approached me about the Mariners. Some of my friends are minority owners in the Mariners. They’ve had some tough times — with everything. I have to admit  between the Seahawks games and the Blazer games and playoffs games, we’re talking about close to 100 games a year, so I don’t really follow other sports a lot.

Q: It’s almost like your job now?

A: No, but I can’t miss a game. I watch every game and I’m thinking about, OK, are we doing this right or that right, and what questions am I going to ask. If you’re a passionate owner, two teams are a lot. Of course, I do other things too.

Q: What do you think about this season’s NFL rule changes and confusion over where players can hit other players?

A: “I think the league [is] making an effort to clean some of those things up, to limit these things. It takes awhile. Whether it’s the NBA or NFL or anything else, it takes awhile for the players to figure out and the referees to figure out what you call what you don’t call, what’s permissible, what’s not permissible, where to tackle, where not to tackle.

Q: What about complaints that these new rules are hurting the game?

A: The chatter you’ve probably heard this year is a reflection of that propagation through the league. I think it will keep progressing. The game is an amazing game. I don’t think the changes are going to affect how amazingly exciting the game is.

Q: How important to you is winning a Super Bowl?

A: Oh it would be fantastic, but for me I think more about the fans and the players and the coaches. For me as an owner, I’m really hoping we’re able to enjoy progressing to a Super Bowl victory for all of those people that are involved.

Q:  Was the last Super Bowl run the point at which you felt really validated buying the Seahawks, that owning the team was the right thing to do?

A: Well, no. …  Whenever you make the Super Bowl, so many things — you have to have the good general manager and the coach and the great players and you have to have not too many injuries, everything, game plans and everything, has to fall very much your way for that to happen. You’re really more pinching yourself than anything else and you’re just really happy for everybody involved.

But, no, I can’t suddenly I felt vindicated for having bought the team, but certainly it’s a moment of excitement.

Comments | Topics: Billionaire techies, Mariners, Microsoft

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