Seattle makes me… join the 12th Man


It wasn’t my plan to write about this next, but it feels like I can’t let the weekend be too far gone before mentioning the event that got the city very excited. Although it turns out Part 2 is happening next Sunday – so I guess I could have waited after all.

Projected on to the Hammering Man outside Seattle Art Museum

Projected on to the Hammering Man outside Seattle Art Museum

No 12 flags have been going up everywhere – cultural institutions, corporations, businesses and well just about everywhere. And 2 for 1 or other discounts are on offer for the 12th man all over. The news reports have been full of the vital role of the 12th Man. It clearly had to do with Seahawks, Seattle’s NFL ‘American’ football team (they miss out the ‘American’ here – there is football and soccer, what is to confuse?) and their journey towards the Super Bowl but…??? So ‘what is the 12th Man thing?’ would seem a reasonable question wouldn’t it – not something to be scoffed at for asking the husband or anything, right? Hmmm. Okay – so it turns out everyone knows what the 12th Man is (err?) – it is the crowd, obviously. In football you only have a maximum of 11 people on the field at any one time – you knew that didn’t you?

Well the Seahawks 12th Man is quite something to be reckoned with, they like to shout. They shout so loud that it set off a land quake – really, in January 2011, how nutty is that. They are known as the loudest in the NFL – on Dec 2nd 2013 their loudest roar was 137.6 decibels (a Guinness Book World Record for any sports event), which 710 ESPN Seattle said was beaten on Saturday. They have something to shout about as they are now only one game away from the super bowl, which even I have heard of. The movers tipped us off that things were going well for the team, but were quick to point out “it isn’t always like this”!

12manNow, just as I am beginning to understand and see the fun in this 12th Man label I find out one of those ‘only in the USA’ things… It turns out Texas A&M (a university) decided that they should be the only people able to use the phrase, because it appeared in a campus university newspaper in 1921. Apparently the University of Iowa have an alumni magazine with the phrase in from 1903 – but for some reason that doesn’t seem to matter. So Texas A&M trademarked it, and told others using it they would be taken to court if they continued. Many stopped but the Seahawks carried on, litigation started and they eventually settled out of court. The Seahawks now pay Texas A&M a licence fee and acknowledge the trademark to use the phrase. Honestly – that is just daft. It is a phrase….

Still I joined the 12th man (without any charge). The husband briefed me on the rules Saturday lunchtime, pointing out they were simple enough for men to understand when drunk, and on went the radio coverage. I have just about got the going forwards and backwards bit and some of the touching down and kicking. The rest remains something of a mystery. But I do know that 3rd and 17 when you started on the 30th means you are in big trouble, and I know that Seahawks 32 – 15 Saints means we won! I can’t imagine what downtown is going to be like next weekend, we might hear them from home mind you…

Go Hawks!!!


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