Editorial: Paul Allenís legacy is more than the Seattle Seahawks


By Seattle Times Editorial, Published: February 2, 2015

Seahawks owner Paul Allen tips his hat to the crowd before Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)


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 in December.

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 consequences.

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 quarter.

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 Project.

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.