Does Jeff Bezos really make sense as next Seahawks owner?

Apr 17, 2023, 9:11 AM

Seattle Seahawks 49ers...

A view at the line of scrimmage during a Seattle Seahawks-49ers game on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

When it was reported last week that longtime Washington Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder have an non-exclusive agreement to sell the team, the biggest news may have been that Jeff Bezos isn’t planning a bid – in part because it could mean Bezos has his eyes on a different NFL team: the Seattle Seahawks.

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Both Mark Maske of The Washington Post and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk addressed the possibility that Bezos, the ultra-wealthy Amazon founder, could look to buy the Seahawks when the Paul G. Allen Trust, which assumed control of the team when owner Paul Allen died in 2018, eventually sells.

According to a report by Maske, “‘Bezos knows that Seattle is sitting there,’ (a) person with knowledge of the NFL inner workings said.”

The idea makes sense on paper. Bezos founded Amazon in Bellevue, and the company still has a huge footprint in Seattle. But when Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk heard the rumors, he wasn’t so sure it adds up that Bezos would follow Jody Allen as the next Seahawks chairperson. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Bezos has focused his interests in recent years in Washington, D.C., not Washington state.

“(The report of a potential Commanders sale) sparked some rumors that maybe the reason Bezos was out on the Commanders – because obviously Jeff Bezos has enough money to basically supersede anybody else who wants to buy anything – is because he wants to be in on the Seahawks in another couple of years when Jody’s ready, the trust is ready, and all the details are sort of maneuvered around for her to sell the team,” Salk said.

Salk went on to explain why those rumors feel “a little bit odd” to him.

“By all accounts, (Bezos) was trying to add more and more juice to Washington, D.C., with Amazon (HQ2 in Arlington, Va.), etc., that he was interested in the (D.C.) scene. And if you are interested in power, you’re interested in making a difference in (D.C.), owning the Seahawks doesn’t have nearly the same level of influence as owning the Washington Commanders,” Salk said.

Salk doesn’t think that the Seahawks having a stronger reputation around the NFL than the Snyder-owned Commanders would be a factor for Bezos.

“Just because Daniel Snyder has essentially frittered (the Commanders’ reputation) away over the course of the last decade-plus doesn’t mean that that’s not one of the most powerful things to own in the sports world,” Salk said, “because of where it is, the history of the team, the fan base that is still largely there, and the amount of power that exists in around that city – certainly significantly more than in this city.

“So yeah, there is a Seattle element to Amazon, obviously, but Bezos has never really struck me as a big Seattle guy. He’s never gotten invested in any of the other possibilities of owning teams or anything else here in Seattle. I don’t think of him that way. It’s not like Paul Allen, who became kind of ‘Mr. Seattle.’ He’s not that. He’s built a lot here, and obviously Seattle is important to him and his success and story, but he doesn’t strike me as somebody who would say, ‘No, no, no, I really want the Seahawks, not the team that makes the most sense for my power and business and everything else.'”

Listen to the full discussion from Friday’s edition of Brock and Salk in the podcast below.

When could the Seattle Seahawks be sold?

The Seahawks aren’t currently for sale and likely won’t be until at least next year – per Florio, “if they are sold before May 2024, 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the State of Washington as part of the deal to build the team’s current stadium.” And even 2024 could be far sooner than when the team is actually put on the block.

Both the Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers will eventually be sold by the Paul G. Allen Trust, with the profits dedicated to philanthropic causes. This was confirmed by Allen’s sister, current Seahawks and Blazers chair Jody Allen, in a statement last year. But she said the timeline is far from urgent.

“As we’ve stated before, neither of the teams is for sale and there are no sales discussions happening,” Jody Allen wrote. “A time will come when that changes given Paul’s plans to dedicate the vast majority of his wealth to philanthropy, but estates of this size and complexity can take 10 to 20 years to wind down. There is no preordained timeline by which the teams must be sold.”

For more on that, plus former NFL player and current FOX football analyst Brock Huard’s insight on the situation, read the article from last July at this link.

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Does Jeff Bezos really make sense as next Seahawks owner?