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Seattle Seahawks to Stop Using "12th Man" on Social Media, Texas A&M Says

Texas A&M University has reached a new deal with the Seattle Seahawks to allow the NFL team to continue using the phrase "12th Man." There will be new restrictions on the use of the trademarked slogan, however.

Kyle Field at Texas A&M University in College Station.

On social media, Texas A&M University is now the sole home of the "12th Man."

That's what the university declared on Thursday after announcing a licensing agreement with the Seattle Seahawks to allow the NFL team to continue to use the trademarked phrase, with some new restrictions. A&M owns the rights to the phrase, but it has licensed it to the Seahawks since 2006. 

An extension of that deal was announced Thursday. But A&M officials said it added new stipulations to the contract. Now, the team won't be allowed to reference to the "12th Man" on its stadium's ring of honor, a display that recognizes great players in the team's history. The professional football team also won't reference the "12th man" on social media, according to A&M. (One apparent exception: The Seahawks did reference the tradition in announcing the new deal on social media.)

The Seahawks will be required to pay A&M $28,000 each year as part of the deal. 

Many football fans consider references to the 12th man a generic way to describe fans in a stadium, the idea being that the fans are so loud and engaged that they give the home team an advantage similar to an additional player. But A&M traces its use of the phrase to 1922, when a student came down from the bleachers and stood next to the Aggies' bench in case the injury-depleted team needed him to take the field. A&M students now traditionally stand at football games to symbolize their support for the team.

Seattle claims to have called its fans the 12th man since 1984, saying it's the first team from the NFL to use the phrase. But A&M threatened legal action against the team in 2006 during a Seahawks run to the Super Bowl. The two entities entered into a licensing deal that year. The deal announced Thursday is an extension. 

"The 12th Man is a cherished tradition," A&M President Michael Young said in a statement. "Keeping it alive is important because it reflects the willingness and readiness of Aggies to fearlessly step in whenever and wherever needed."

Disclosure: Texas A&M University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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