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Chapter 12: Unmasked

Ken Behring sat in his chair, refusing to speak. Even though he knew the game was over, he wasn’t going to leave the field easily.

I guess maybe I should have felt sorry for him, but the good Lord didn’t put that much kindness into me. I was too busy thinking about the season he’d killed.

“Gentlemen,” I continued, and I thought Behring shuddered a little as I took over his phoney-Holmgren style, “this is the first Seahawk owner to win the AFC West. A trophy desired by many and won by few. A man with a considerable interest in protecting that legacy — at any price.

“He spent many happy years knowing that he’d done everything possible to keep the Seahawks from winning another title: the lousy drafts, the move to LA, Dennis Erickson. It all fell nicely into place. But then, something went horribly wrong. The Seahawks started to win again.”

The room was silent. You could hear a Koren Robinson pass drop.

“It must have been hard for him to take, but not even he could keep the Seahawks down forever. The fear of being passed by history started to eat into him. The new coach became a threat. And for some men, threats were made to be … eliminated.”

Paul Allen sat up abruptly. “You don’t mean Mike is …”.

“No, the Holmgrens are quite safe. Dave tracked them down to one of the Behring estates. It took a little hard work, but that’s nothing to a man like Dave.

“But he did get them out of the way. A hiding place, a little plastic surgery, a little intimidation, and you were all completely fooled. As easy as taking a payout from the Redskins, wasn’t it?”

Behring still wasn’t talking.

“Once he’d tricked all of you, the rest was quite simple. Enough wins to look legitimate, but enough critical accidents and mistakes to make sure that the playoffs were doomed. He’d studied Holmgren’s style closely enough to say all the right things about close losses and fixing small details and going places you’d never been before. Nobody could tell the difference. It was just like every other season.

“But once even Paul Allen started asking questions, you started to get fancy, didn’t you? You needed a patsy, like Hass. I wondered why you just happened to have the play file so handy when you talked to me — just another setup to shift the blame onto the boy. But it’s all over now. The curse of the Kenbino is over.

“Officers, take them away.”