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.
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.