Editorial: Paul Allenís legacy is
more than the Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks owner Paul Allen tips his hat to the
crowd before Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)
CLIFF Avril, defensive end
for the Seattle Seahawks, may want to extend a special thanks to Paul Allen,
team owner, some day. And not just for the $28 million contract Avril signed
That special thanks might
come on a day no one would wish on Avril or any other NFL player. But if it
does come, Allen might be the one responsible for lessening its
Avril possibly suffered a
concussion in Sundayís Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots and did
not return to play after a collision with another player in the third
Concussions have caught the
attention of the NFL in recent years, but Allen stands out as an owner who
is doing something about brain injury. He is financing a two-year, $2.4
million study to examine brains down to the molecular level, seeking changes
related to traumatic brain injury. The study is being done at the University
of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which Allen founded
in 2003 and is a reflection of his interest in neuroscience.
The NFL has agreed to pay
$870 million to settle a lawsuit brought by former players claiming the
league did little to protect them from brain trauma that could lead to
serious health problems later in life.
Allen has poured at least
$500 million into the study of the brain ó only one of many interests Allen
supports with the billions he has made as a Microsoft co-founder. Heís
promised $100 million in the fight against Ebola, pledged $100 million to
create the Allen Institute for Cell Science to advance biomedical research,
led conservation efforts for African wildlife, built space vehicles,
collected heritage aircraft now displayed at Paine Field, transformed
Seattle neighborhoods, restored the Cinerama movie theater, opened museums
and brought tourists to the city to puzzle over the Experience Music
That barely scratches the
surface of why the magazine Inside Philanthropy in 2014 named Allen its
philanthropist of the year.
Itís easy ó and often
justified ó to dismiss sports franchises as the playthings of the rich who
extort the public for tax benefits and money for stadiums and other
amenities they could well afford to pay for on their own.
But Seattle can be proud of
the owner it has, and not just because the Seahawks came within one yard of
repeating as Super Bowl champions. In 1997, Allen bought the team from an
owner who wanted to move it to California, and since then the Seahawks have
been to the Super Bowl three times.
Looking ahead ó and at
Avrilís four-year contract ó it appears that Allen plans to keep the team
here and competitive.
While the 12s can applaud
his football efforts, Allenís contributions to the city, to science, to
entertainment and to the world go far beyond the yard markers.