Seattle’s 12th Man Flag

Tuesday July 15th, 2014

The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.

It has been unfurled below the Statue of Liberty and raised above the Space Needle. President Obama posed for photos while holding it up. In the months surrounding Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII win, the “12th Man Flag” has experienced a tour-de-force of sightseeing. But for fans of the Seahawks, the electric-blue nylon piece of fabric with a white No. 12 printed in the center is as familiar as any player on the Seattle roster.

The flag—hoisted before kickoff for each game at CenturyLink Field—represents community, devotion and passion for a fan base that prides itself in having the best, and loudest, home-field advantage in the NFL.

Whether Seattle’s “12th man” is the best, and whether the Seahawks even dibs on the term, is up for debate (just ask Texas A & M, which sued the Seahawks to protect that trademark in 2006; the two parties have since settled). Not in question, however, is CenturyLink’s volume, which, depending on who you ask, reaches either righteous pandemonium or insufferable loudness. In a Week 13 Monday night game against the Saints, Seattle's fan base regained the Guinness World Record for crowd noise with a 137.6-decibel reading (Kansas City fans at Arrowhead Stadium have been in a tug-of-war with Seattle for this distinction). Another Pacific Northwest legend was born in a 2011 playoff game when fans cheered so hard during Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard Beast Mode touchdown run that they generated seismic activity. From the field to space, from Lady Liberty to the White House, Seahawks fans and their beloved flag set new standards for fan engagement—and lung capacity.

—Emily Kaplan

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