NEW YORK — NFL owners said Wednesday they are certain that the Seahawks will remain in Seattle, even if the franchise is sold following the death of owner Paul Allen earlier this week.
The Seahawks have not said what will happen with the team’s ownership, and while Allen’s sister Jody has been mentioned as a potential owner, the situation remains unclear. The NFL requires teams to have an ownership succession plan on file with the league.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay speculated that the team will be sold, but he said he expects it to stay put.
“I really do,” Irsay said. “I’m just guessing, but I would have to believe his wishes are going to make sure that whoever buys it retains that market as where the team will stay.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed similar views about the franchise’s future in Seattle.
“I can’t imagine the Seahawks not in Seattle,” Jones said. “That hasn’t even been a thought. As a matter of fact, he was so instrumental in establishing that certainty, it would be really a little unjust [for the team to leave]. The thing that he probably did the most as to NFL sports was to stabilize the Seahawks franchise.”
Jones said he doesn’t know if the team will be sold.
“I don’t have a thought about that,” he said. “But I do have no doubt that the Seahawks are Seattle.”
A person familiar with the league’s inner workings said late Tuesday that he guessed the team eventually would be sold, but a resolution was not necessarily imminent.
The owners completed a two-day meeting Wednesday, during which they struck down the NFL’s long-standing prohibition against cross-ownership. That ban prevented a person from owning both an NFL franchise and a franchise in another sport in a different market that has an NFL team.
The new arrangement allows current NFL owners to pursue opportunities in other sports. It also could open the bidding on the Seahawks, for example, to owners from other sports. So if, for instance, the Seahawks become available and prominent sports owners like Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks or Steve Ballmer of the Los Angeles Clippers want to bid on them, they can. Some within the sport seemed to believe that the Carolina Panthers, sold this year to David Tepper for about $2.3 billion, might have commanded a higher price if the cross-ownership rules had allowed for a larger field of bidders.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the future ownership of the Seahawks was not addressed during the meeting.
“We didn’t have any discussion on it,” Goodell said. “We think it’s inappropriate at this point in time to be having those kinds of discussions. The Seahawks have made plans. Paul Allen made plans. At the appropriate time, those things will be discussed.”
Jones said the NFL benefited from the time that Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft and also the owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, spent in the league.
“We’re going to sorely miss him,” Jones said. “He had real influence in the league. I personally was influenced by my interaction with him. I was such an admirer of him before he came into the NFL. When we get someone of his stature to join in ownership in the NFL, I just completely throw a party because what we need is someone like that. Any organization would want to have someone like that operating in its best interests. And that’s what Paul Allen did for the NFL.”