BY Art Thiel 04:37PM 11/14/2019

Thiel: Bezos a buyer for Seahawks? Not yet, but . . .

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is said to be fishing in NFL waters, wanting a team. Seahawks are said to be not for sale. But with a worth of $109 billion, what isn’t for sale?

Jeff Bezos, at the opening of the Amazon Spheres downtown, may want to open shop in the NFL. / Seattle City Council

Well, who wouldn’t want a zippy drone delivering a kale/arugula smoothie from Whole Foods to your seat at the Clink, then after the Seahawks game, take a Blue Origin space shuttle into low earth orbit to beat the Seattle traffic?

All this and more can be yours, 12s, once Jeff Bezos buys the Seahawks.

That possibility arose this week when CBS Sports Sunday and the Washington Post Thursday published stories speculating that Bezos has interest in buying into the NFL, and the NFL would warmly embrace the king of Amazon.

Both stories made the obvious connection to the Seahawks, the team of Bezos’s adopted hometown. But no one around the club has given any indication that Jody Allen has any intention to sell the club she inherited from her late brother, Paul.

When it comes to sports teams, including ownership of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, Jody Allen has kept the lowest profile. She emerged publicly just once, raising the 12s flag before the game against the Los Angeles Rams last month, when Paul was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.

She has given no media interviews. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who signed a two-year contract extension in December, has been nothing but positive about her time as chair of the team, an asset in the Paul G. Allen trust.

“We had one really significant meeting, a couple of talks, and she has been really excited and really fired up about doing this,’’ Carroll after the extension was signed. “And anybody that’s a 12, that cares for the Seahawks, would be really fired up about how she is looking at this and how she wants to go about it. She’s got a great love and spirit for the area and the club.”

Of course, that was then. This is now. When the richest man in the world — actually, it’s a tie at $109 billion with another Seattle guy, Bill Gates, according to Bloomberg — comes knocking, things can change. Ask the NBA, when the Los Angeles Clippers weren’t for sale until another Seattle guy, Steve Ballmer, No. 17 on the Bloomberg billionaires list, wrote a $2 billion check in 2014 to Shelley Sterling, wife of exiled disgrace Donald Sterling.

Since the Allen empire doesn’t need the money, and Jody seems to enjoy captaining the ship, Bezos may have to look elsewhere.

Perhaps to his next adopted hometown, Washington D.C., where the NFL has a similar knucklehead problem as the NBA did with Sterling. The 20-year stewardship of Daniel Snyder has wrecked a once-great franchise, and NFL owners would love to see him cashed out.

The Post, which is owned by Bezos, quoted a team spokesperson saying the team is “100 percent not for sale, and Daniel Snyder is not looking to sell any portion of the team.” The spokesman added that Snyder “has not seen Jeff Bezos in a decade.”

So?

Bezos is building a mansion for himself in suburban Virginia, where Amazon’s second headquarters is being developed. Given how his company had its ears boxed in Seattle’s recent city council elections, where a pro-business slate of candidates funded by Amazon largely was rejected, he may be tired of Seattle’s lefty political climate.

As is often said in big business, nothing is for sale until it’s sold. Dan, meet your neighbor, Jeff.

Unlike Ballmer, Bezos has never publicly expressed a desire for pro sports ownership. But Bezos, who was recently divorced from wife Mackenzie, has been seen circling the NFL circus. He was seen in the suite of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the Super Bowl, and he was spotted in August at the annual Hall of Fame ceremony Canton, OH.

This is where the story gets interesting.

According to the CBS Sports story, Bezos was there because his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, wanted to celebrate the Hall induction of her old boyfriend, TE Tony Gonzalez. The couple dated when Gonzalez was a rising star with the Kansas City Chiefs, who took him with their first pick in the 1997 draft. Together, they had a son, Nikko, who, now 18, also attended the ceremony.

Nikko also has a godfather of some note — the Chiefs’ second-round choice in that same draft, a wide receiver by the name of Kevin Lockett. He’s the father of the Seahawks leading receiver, Tyler Lockett.

I’ll repeat after you: Small world.

Where all this leads is unknowable, except the part about the NFL’s interest in having Bezos in the tent of ownership. Said  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in an October interview: “Someone like that, I’d carry him piggyback to get him to the NFL.”

The franchises in Seattle and Washington are said to be not for sale. Nor are any others known to be for sale. The last one was Carolina, for $2.3 billion 2018.

But when Bezos wants something, he’s probably an Amazon Prime member. Delivery in a day.


YourThoughts

  • Mark

    Bezos! Am ok with local ownership.

    • art thiel

      What if he’s no longer local?

      • art thiel

        Makes no difference. Many owners not local.

    • art thiel

      It’s what you have with all owners here.

  • eYeROQ

    The NFL would have to force Snyder to sell to pry that team loose from his grip. The DC team has been his sole business interest for the last 20 years. He loves playing fantasy football GM with it, I don’t see him selling.

    • art thiel

      The NFL would force nothing. Every man has his price.

      • eYeROQ

        The nba appeared to force Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers, he didn’t seem willing to sell until the league stepped in.

        • art thiel

          His racist remarks violated NBA policy and caused his suspension. He put himself in jeopardy.

          • Husky73

            So why hasn’t the NFL stepped in regarding the racist Redskins name?

          • art thiel

            The league has been unwilling to force Snyder’s hand, because whether the owners hate the nickname, none of them want to be told how to run their franchises apart from the existing by-laws. Forcing an identity change isn’t in the rules.

          • Husky73

            So, the next NFL expansion team could be the New Jersey Blackskins? Or the Hayden Lake Whiteskins? Or the San Jose Yellowskins?

          • art thiel

            Owners have given themselves the right to control future franchise decisions, including nicknames. But they don’t want to sue one another over grandfathered practices, even a racist nickname. I think they should in this case, but owners don’t care about doing things that cost money, and set a precedent.

    • Kirkland

      If he does buy the Redskins, I hope he at least replaces the turf at FedEx Field. It apparently hasn’t improved much since RG3’s injury in the playoff vs the Seahawks.

      Could this also be a tweak against Trump? He’s long wanted an NFL team, ever since he ruined the USFL, and losing out on one to the guy who owns his hated DC newspaper would stick in his craw.

  • coug73

    Bezos must have a serious mid-life crisis. Local ownership is all right by me.

    • art thiel

      The NFL would be a fine marketplace to test products/sales tactics.

  • Howard Wells

    My stomach squirms with the thought of Bezos moving the Seahawks to get even with our City Council. A fine pantheon of owners: Behring, Benning, Bezos.

    • art thiel

      Benning? Do you mean Paui Allen?

      It never occurred to me that Bezos would try to move a successful franchise. NFL would never allow it.

      • Howard Wells

        Sorry I meant clay Bennet. They want Bezos so bad that anything can be rationalized.

    • jafabian

      That’s the reason Schultz sold the Sonics to an out of state buyer. Too bad that decision came back to haunt him. Seattle never lets him forget.

      • art thiel

        But his group made more than $100M upon sale. Schultz is more about money than he lets on.

  • Husky73

    “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” (Steven Wright)

  • ll9956

    Not to nit-pick, but who is “Jones”?

    • art thiel

      Good nit-pick. I accidentally deleted the first reference to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Fixed. Thanks.

  • jafabian

    The Seahawks organization, including John Clayton, have stated that Jody Allen has given no indication that she’s looking to sell the team. I wonder if this “rumor” isn’t a power play by some NFL owners to get her out and replace her with one of their own. Surely the owner of the Washington Post and Amazon, who streams games via Amazon Prime, looks like an ideal marriage for the league. But Jody has raised the 12th Man flag and used her private plane to fly in Clowney when he was traded for and Lockett from Santa Clara. IMO she’s in it for the long haul which is best for everyone. No one better than her understands Paul’s vision.

    • art thiel

      Nothing reported so far suggests the Seahawks are Bezos’s targeted team. Just an assumption from his residence. Which is why I pointed out he’s building another home near the new Amazon hub in suburban VA. His permanent residence could be DC by the time a team beomes available. But he could end up with the Chargers or Bills, or any team between. Doesn’t matter where he lives.

      • eYeROQ

        The WAPO piece you cited explicitly mentioned his interest in the Seahawks.

        • art thiel

          It did cite an anonymous source “familiar with his thinking” But he has said nothing publicly. My skepticism is stirred because this is the sort of rumor an owner would leak to help stimulate a market for a franchise that may be for sale.

          • eYeROQ

            Would an owner really leak such a rumor about Bezos’s interest in the Seahawks to Bezos’s own newspaper without his blessing or if it wasn’t true? I find that highly dubious.

          • art thiel

            As the column said, CBS Sports broke the story Sunday, the Post followed four days later. I’m told by people at the Post that the firewall between Bezos’s businesses and the newsroom has so far not been breached, including many stories about Amazon’s dubious practices.

            You may not believe that; I do. The Post got beat on the story. NFL owners have lots of reasons to want Bezos in the tent, so they stir the pot with leaks.

      • jafabian

        Some should replace Snyder. He’s the Donald Sterling of the NFL.

  • Effzee

    No. A thousand times, NO! And… how can you assert that the Redskins can be had for the right price but also say the NFL would never allow the relocation of a successful franchise? I mean…. does anyone love money more than the NFL? What if he offered to pay a bazillion dollar relocation fee? Nah. I’ll pass. I’d rather see Amazon pay it’s fair share of taxes before that clown gets to buy our team.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    The Hawks are running fine with current ownership. However if Bezos is looking to take on a train wreck to rebuild, look no further than the Hawks next door neighbor. Dare to dream.

    • Effzee

      This.

    • art thiel

      Presuming he has a few other projects going, Bezos is likely to buy from the top shelf, not something that hasn’t run right for most of 43 years.

  • Effzee

    On the one hand, the NFL would be forward-thinking and politically correct to keep and promote Jody as one of the only female owners in all of the pro sports leagues that matter, ala Georgia Frontiere. I love what the Allen’s have done for the city and the franchise and the whole region, and I see no reason to seek change. On the other hand, despite Amazon being real big cheaters *cough* taxes *cough, cough* is there anyone I want on my side than the biggest and most powerful cheaters of them all? Would it be bad to have the Hawks owned by Amazon? I doubt it. Wouldn’t we win like a buh’zillion Super Bowls?

    • art thiel

      Paul Allen was already 3x richer than the next richest NFL owner.

      In a league with a hard salary cap, extreme wealth can help with buying top coaches and facilities. But the Seahawks are already there, lacking for nothing in terms of resources.

      So I don’t think Bezos could do much better, while making the Seahawks the president’s most hated team. I would pay large coin to be at the White House for that salute to the Super Bowl champ Seahawks.

      • Effzee

        Agree. That’s why I secretly hope he likes baseball too.

  • woofer

    Jody has been made to feel welcome and is having fun. She likely isn’t going anywhere as long as Schneider and Carroll stay around. As for DC, almost anyone would be an upgrade over Daniel Snyder. Better Bezos than bozos.

    • art thiel

      See, you qualified it, hanging it on Carroll/Schneider. Just like life, things change fast in sports. Bezos may plant the seed now, and buy in three, five or 10 years.

  • Will

    My god, the world’s in crisis and there’s this dribble about which plantation owner owns a bread & circus amusement?