Seattle Seahawks and the 12th Man

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					If you're a fan of the National Football League, you know how important tradition is.
Dallas and Detroit are supposed to play football games every Thanksgiving. Madden
has to bring a twelve-legged turkey to the game. There's a reason they called it the Ice
Bowl, and it doesn't matter if non-fans understand what we are talking about. These
traditions give the sport we love its own unique flavor and appeal. The Seattle
Seahawks, despite only having been in the league since 1976, have an important
tradition of their own - and it is one that every fan of football can appreciate. It
involves the team's acknowledgement of that all-important 12th Man

The meaning of the term

Of course, football fans almost instantly understand the term "12th Man", but casual
observers may find it a little more difficult to grasp. Simply put, the term is a play on
the fact that no team is allowed to field any number of players greater than eleven at a
time. The mythical 12th Man is constituted by the combined noise and excitement of
the team's supporters sitting in the stands. Technically, the 12th Man nickname is
owned by a college football program - the Aggies of Texas A&M, but through an
agreement with the school, the Seattle franchise has permission to assign the name to
their own fan base.

How it all began

The tradition of the 12th Man has its origins in the 1922 Dixie Classic in which the
Texas A&M Aggies were challenging the football team from Centre College. Though
the Aggies were doing their best to control the game against their heavily favored
opponent, many of A&M's players were hurt during the first half of play. Had the
Aggies run out of players in the second half, the team would have had to forfeit the
game. The Aggies Coach Bible called on one of the spectators, E. King Gill, to suit up
in case he was needed. By the time the Aggies pulled out the win, so many players
were hurt that Gill was alone on the sideline. With eleven men left on the field, Gill
was thus the 12th Man. And though he did not see play that day, the fact was that he
was ready to enter the game if needed.

Seahawks usage

Few would argue with the idea that Seattle's fans can produce some noise in their
stadium. So raucous is the crowd that the team retired #12 back in 1984 in recognition
of those fans' support. Since that time, the Seahawks raise a flag with that number on
it to start each home game, and sells number twelve jerseys to their supporters. It has
even gone so far that the team's fans have been presented with a game ball after a
2005 win against the New York Giants. The fans' screaming on that day spurred the
Giants to an incredible eleven penalties for false starts.
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