Duane Brown saw and appreciated it from afar before he came to Seattle in a 2017 trade. What the Seahawks had going on in Seattle—the culture, the camaraderie—it was different than what is normal across the NFL.
The Seahawks over the years became known as one of the best run franchises in the NFL, both on the field and off, and that started at the top with Seahawks Chairman Paul G. Allen.
"He meant a great deal to this team," Brown said. "Him allowing players to be themselves, allowing players to express themselves, and creating that culture of a brotherhood here, it meant everything. Me being somewhere else, from the outside looking in, guys I was friends with (in Seattle), I would always tell them, 'you guys have a really good locker room,' and he was at the top of that. And his philanthropic work in the community, and encouraging players to be the same way, and also backing players—the Players (Equality & Justice for All Action) Fund that we have is something he really was instrumental in—that was special. A lot of places aren't like that. I wish I could have gotten to spend a little more time with him, but I was able to express my gratitude for him and the person that he has been here."
Prior to Thursday's game, Allen, who passed away last fall due to complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, will become the 12th member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor during a pregame ceremony scheduled to begin at 4:50 p.m. Seahawks Chair Jody Allen will honor her brother by raising the 12 Flag prior to kickoff.
"It's going to be cool," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "Some of the guys didn't have the opportunity to meet Paul, just because we are a young team and we have a good amount of rookies; a couple new guys. I think for Paul Allen and what he meant to us and what he's meant to this franchise, he gave us a chance. He gave us an opportunity just to have this amazing facility. To have the great coaches that we have. To have the culture that we have. The opportunities that we have. He's always supported everybody in that sense. He was a great owner, and Jody has done a tremendous job, too, as I've gotten to know her over the past several months. Her enthusiasm behind this team has been amazing
"He always did everything with class. He loved his football. He loves his basketball, too. He loves his music. He means a lot to me and Ciara. We got to know him over the years, and he meant a lot to us too. I know he's meant a lot to a lot of people. He's helped a lot of lives and he's helped animals. He's done a lot of research and done a lot of amazing things. The guy created Microsoft. Pretty special."
Said linebacker Bobby Wagner, "It means a lot, especially for me. He drafted me. He took a chance on a linebacker that they felt was too short and wasn't going to pan out in the league. To honor him is amazing, for him to be the 12th Ring of Honor (inductee) is pretty amazing. It was perfect, it's fitting, he deserves it."
While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also deserves a lot of the credit for the aforementioned culture that has helped players thrive, Carroll was quick to point out that were it not for Allen, he wouldn't be here. Of all of Allen's leadership traits, one of the most important for the Seahawks' success has been in ability to identify the right people to run his team—coaches like Carroll and Mike Holmgren, and general manager John Schneider, to name a few—then empower them to be great at their jobs.
"After talking to Paul, I just had no doubt," Carroll said. "It was a very difficult decision to leave where I was coming from. I was really excited about the chance because the challenge of it all. Basically, because of his support, I came here because of him. I came here because he said, it'll be like this. You can have this opportunity of being in charge and on and on."
Allen purchased the team in 1997, well before any current players were in the league, but they have learned over the years just how much he meant not only to them as players, but to the entire region.
"That's amazing for him to go into the Ring of Honor," said linebacker K.J. Wright. "He's the person that kept the Seahawks here; we were almost in California. He's the guy who chose to extend me, so I'm happy about that. He's just a special guy, he did a lot of stuff in the community. We bonded because he went to Africa and did some work as well, so we talked about that. It's going to be really cool to see his name up in the stadium."
Said center Justin Britt, a 2014 draft pick who signed a contract extension in 2017, "He was our leader. For me personally, he gave me the opportunity to be a Seahawk, believed in me, gave me a second contract. Him and this family and this organization have changed my life forever. So for him to not only be inducted in the Ring of Honor, but to be the 12th one, that's pretty special. There's a lot of meaning behind that."
Thursday night's ceremony promises to be a special one, so the Seahawks ask that fans attending the game please arrive early to be a part of it. Seahawks players will be playing to honor Allen on Thursday, and they're also counting on fans to carry the energy from Allen's Ring of Honor induction through the entire game.
"We keep him in our memory every time we take the field," Brown said. "I got here recently, but I know his impact, and I know how badly he wanted to bring championship football here. We owe him and his family a great deal, so we always keep him in our memory. So taking the field with that added motivation, it means a lot."