Vikings preparing for ‘12th Man'

The Vikings are only 1-2 on the road this year and they could be going into the noisiest road environment yet as they prepare to travel to Seattle. The veteran players know what to expect.

Going into Seattle to play a football game isn't a picnic. Every team brags that its home fans are the best in the business. Back when the Vikings sold out 100 percent of the Metrodome, they could make that same claim. But, in Seattle, the fans are called the "12th Man."

To the uninitiated, a history lesson may be required. Taking notes is optional. While the history of the proverbial "12th man" is subject to debate, it is widely regarded that Texas A&M holds claim to the phrase. Why? Because the school was rife enough with cash, they sued the Seahawks in 2006 for co-opting the phrase, which the school had trademarked in 1990. They threatened the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears and both of them backed down. Seattle refused and Texas A&M filed suit against them. The two settled out of court. Under the agreement, the Seahawks could continue using the phrase "12th Man" for a fee.

Nobody on Seattle wears No. 12. Instead, it is a retired number and, prior to games, a ceremony is conducted similar to the Vikings sounding the gjallarhorn. A former player or celebrity with ties to the team leads the fans in raising a flag adorned with the No. 12 and it gets the crowd whipped into a frenzy that typically doesn't stop throughout the game. The noise is loud enough that the fans are disruptive for opposing offenses, living up to their moniker.

There are home field advantages everywhere, but what makes Seattle's so pronounced?

"The fans, obviously," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "You deal with Northwest weather, but I don't think we've ever had bad conditions when we were out there. It's been more about what they do with the crowd. They're loud and they get after it at home. They obviously fuel off their fans and play their best at home."

There's only one way to achieve silence in Seattle – play well enough that you take the fans out of the game. It isn't easy, but it can be done and that will be the game plan of the Vikings heading into Seattle Sunday.

"Any time on the road is a challenge," defensive end Jared Allen said. "The challenge is that to go out there and not effect how our play is. How you do that is obviously getting the lead. It's going to be a fun game."

The Vikings regularly pump artificial crowd noise into their practices prior to playing on the road, but Friday they took it to another level. Not only did they play it during offensive and defensive drills, they started it during the early special teams portion of practice.

SATURDAY NOTES

  • The Wilf family announced Friday that they will donate $100,000 to the relief effort for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The Wilfs are from New Jersey, which was hit hardest by the superstorm.

  • Tight end John Carlson has been ruled out of Sunday's game, which would have been a reunion for him. He played his first four seasons with the Seahawks before signing a free-agent contract with the Vikings.

  • Mistral Raymond is listed as questionable and will likely be a game-time decision whether he will play or not. He isn't expected to start.

  • Other than Carlson and Raymond, the other eight players listed on the injury report for the Vikings are all listed as probable.

  • Seattle wide receiver Braylon Edwards (knee) and DE Jason Jones (ankle) have been ruled out of Sunday's game.

  • Greenway mentioned it, but the Vikings once again are expected to get favorable playing conditions in Seattle. Listed on the board inside the Vikings locker room Friday was the forecast: 20 percent chance of rain pregame, minimal chance during the game and 60-degrees temperatures.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.


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