There are many of us who still remember the lead news story on one fateful evening in February of 1996. As families turned on television sets across the region, we were informed that a caravan of moving trucks bound for Southern California had hit the road that day, packed to the gills with two decades’ worth of Seattle Seahawks history. Unceremoniously, our football team and all its belongings were gone, destined to become the Los Angeles Seahawks of Anaheim.
Owner Ken Behring, a festering pimple of a human being, was to blame for the heist. A real estate developer by way of the Bay Area, Behring had acquired ownership of the Seahawks in 1988 and proceeded to spend eight miserable years running the ballclub through the turf, beneath the concrete, and well below the surface of the ground.
While Behring, the real-life personification of a bumbling Scooby-Doo villain, acted quickly in shuttling the team out of town, the NFL and King County reacted with even speedier precision to halt the vans and return them to the Pacific Northwest. The shoddy relocation attempt was thwarted, and a humiliated Behring was forced to sell.
Almost immediately, a white knight emerged. He had built his fortune in the software industry, but his passion lay in sports, music, and later, philanthropy. He already controlled one major sports franchise – the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers – but had the bank account to afford another. Unlike his basketball team, this organization would be rooted in his hometown, rather than 173 miles south. With the stroke of a pen and a boatload of cash, Paul Allen committed to buying – and saving – the Seattle Seahawks.