While the Rams make the final X’s and O’s changes through classroom and on-field preparations before heading west Sunday to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, they are also preparing for the Seahawks fans better known as the 12th Man.
A common segment within a practice session for all levels of football is dealing with crowd noise. The use of noise comes in several forms: jet engine, crowd cheering and when I coached at Washington, coach Don James had the marching band come to practice on Thursdays and practice their routine, standing on the sideline, while the team went through their play script and two-minute drill.
I was a junior at Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash. (suburb 10 miles east of Seattle), when the Nordstrom family was awarded an NFL franchise in 1976. Prior to that year, Seattle football fans were forced to watch local high school and semi-pro games, travel to Vancouver, Canada for CFL football, but the biggest draw was the University of Washington Huskies.
With the arrival of the Seahawks, the Seattle fan base finally had their own professional football team. As the Seahawks strengthened their young franchise, their loud, sold-out crowds became known as the 12th Man.
The Seattle fans were and remain passionate about their Seahawks and have a major impact on the success of the team. In the early ‘80s, Seahawks president Mike McCormack retired the No. 12 on Dec. 15, 1984.
Seattle played their games in the early ‘80s in the King Dome, a cement tomb, where the fans became known as the loudest in the NFL. The NFL instituted a noise rule in 1985. Despite the rule, the 12th Man continued the tradition, giving the Seahawks a home-field advantage to this day.
Seahawks owner Paul Allen and the state of Washington built a new stadium in 2003. That same year, the 12th Man was honored with a flag, representing the fans. The tradition of the 12th-Man Flag began on Oct. 12, 2003, when 12 original season-ticket holders hoisted the flag prior to kickoff.
Prior to kickoff at every home game, a local celebrity is honored in hoisting the 12th-Man Flag. At every home game just before kickoff, the flag is raised in honor of the fans, the 12th Man. The flag has become a symbol of Seahawks supporters throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The 12th Man has helped force Seahawks opponents into more false starts than any other stadium in the NFL. The Rams have a tough opponent in the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. While the nation will be watching, they also have to battle the 12th Man as well.
On Nov. 27, 2005, the Seahawks defeated the New York Giants in a dramatic overtime win. The 12th Man’s vocal support helped contribute to the victory by causing 11 false-start penalties and three missed field goals.
Then-coach Mike Holmgren dedicated the game ball to the 12th Man the following day. The ball, now known as the 12th-Man Ball, resides in the Wells Fargo Club.
®The term 12th Man is a trademark of Texas A & M University.