On Paul Allen's presence at NFL meetings

The NFL cannot take for granted Paul Allen's presence at league functions.

I've attended the NFL's annual spring owners meeting roughly 10 times and cannot recall seeing Allen at them. He has typically authorized others to cast votes on the organization's behalf. But with owners and players working toward a labor deal, Allen is in Atlanta for a potential vote.

"How important is this?" Judy Battista of The New York Times tweeted. "Seattle owner Paul Allen is here."

Allen isn't much for the spotlight, to say the least, and his business interests extend far beyond the NFL. He has occasionally expressed strong views on the labor situation, however.

When talks broke down in March, Allen used his Twitter account to blame players.

"NFL players bailed on deal worth billions, sacked collective bargaining & sued, which could take years to play out," he wrote.

Two months later, Allen weighed in again with, "Giants President John Mara says NFLPA’s offer would be great for their lawyers, but not for players, teams, or fans."

With a few exceptions, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken much of the criticism that otherwise might have hit individual owners during the lockout.