In honor of today December 12th, 2012, (12/12/12) it is only appropriate to recognize the history of the 12th man. Defined as simply “a term for the fans within the stadium of a football game”, the 12th man means a lot more than that in places like College Station, Texas and Seattle, Washington.

At Texas A&M, the 12th man is almost more important than the players itself. The term was introduced to College Station in 1922, when A&M didn’t have enough players to take the field for a game so E. King Gill, a student and former football player was called from the stands to sit on the bench and fill a roster spot for the Aggies. Since then, Texas A&M has embraced the term to the fullest. A statue of Gill stands outside Kyle Field along with a banner wrapping around the inside of the stadium reading, “Home of the 12th Man”. To this day, the number 12 jersey is not worn by a player on the A&M roster but is the school’s top selling jersey, ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s number 2 jersey. A&M argues that rather than representing simply the fans, the 12th man is a representation of a student body, something more meaningful than just being a fan.

In Seattle, the Seahawks have adopted the 12th man as a term of their own as well. The franchise, which started in 1976, used the title to describe their “loud, sold out crowds”. On December 15th, 1984, Seahawks president Mike McCormack retired jersey number 12. On November 27th, 2005, the Seahawks, who were undefeated at home that season, gained the edge in a win over the New York Giants thanks to the 12th man. It is said that 12th man caused 11 false start penalties and 3 missed field goals in a key win that eventually led to a Seahawks Super Bowl appearance later in the season. The game ball was dedicated to the 12th man and now sits in a trophy case in the Wells Fargo Club luxury section at CentuaryLink field. Seattle, which is known for having the loudest fans in the NFL, raises the 12th man flag before every game as a symbol of the importance of its fans.

To this day, Seattle and College Station argue who the keeper of the real 12th man. In January of 2006 Texas A&M filed a lawsuit against the Seahawks to protect their trademark of the 12th man title. Upon agreement, Texas A&M licensed the Seahawks to use the 12th man title in exchange for financial compensation and public acknowledgement by the NFL to Texas A&M’s ownership of the phrase. With this being said, who has the rightful claim to the term “12th man”, Seattle or College Station? Comment below and share your opinion on this ongoing argument.