• Mike Holmgren on Paul Allen: 'He was the best owner I ever worked for'

    By: Deborah Horne

    Updated:

    Paul Allen saved the Seattle Seahawks when he bought the team back in 1997.  Two years later, he hired his first coach for the team. 

    Mike Holmgren would go on to take the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl. And he says Paul Allen was a large part of the reason why the team made it to Super Bowl XL in 2005.

    "I can honestly say this," said Holmgren. "I was fortunate enough to work for the best owner in the National Football League.  

    That is how Holmgren describes,  Allen, the man who was his boss for 10 seasons as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. This, from a coach who spent nearly 30 years in the NFL. 

    "He would ask questions," said Holmgren. "He would demand answers. But then at the end of the day, at the end of the conversation.  'What do you need? What do you need from me?' And you can't ask for anything more than that."

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    He says Allen's decision to buy the Seahawks was his gift to the hometown he loved.

    "One of the early conversations we had, he said 'Mike, if and when it should happen that we get to go to the Super Bowl, you will not believe the people in the city and how they will respond,'" said Holmgren. "And so I always thought about that. He bought the team because he wanted to own a team. But as much as anything else, he bought the team for the people here, the people in Seattle."

    All around Seattle is evidence of Allen's affection for Seattle. The Cinerama theater downtown that he rescued and paid to renovate.  At the Museum of Popular Culture or MoPop Allen founded in 2000, people were drawn there by a love of music, one of his great passions. 

    Many here said they didn't realize who he was until they visited his museum.  His death came as a big surprise.

    "We wanted to go into the museum he was responsible for," said Greg Evans, visiting from Pocatello, Idaho. "And then you gave us the news. And so we're excited to go in and salute him."

    "It's sad," said Regina Pufky, visiting from Binghamton, New York. "It's sad."

    Holmgren says he knew the cancer Allen had battled had returned. 

    "(But) when something like this happens," he said, "it's a little bit of a shock." 

    Still, he wasn't expecting the end to come so soon.

    "But I was very surprised and saddened," said Holmgren. "I mean he's 65 years old. I'm 70 years old. I think he was too young. I think he was too young."

    And as he says Allen's legacy will live for many years to come in this place where he was born and where he died.
     

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