Tribute to Seattle fans riles up Texas A&M

By wire services
Published January 29, 2006

Seattle credits its run to Super Bowl XL on the arm of its emergent quarterback, the legs of its MVP running back and the stripped-raw vocal cords of its fervent fans, the long-exalted 12th man.

As a salute to the roaring crowds that used to blow the roof off the old Kingdome, the franchise retired the No. 12 in 1984. But it wasn't until billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought the team in the late 1990s and Qwest Field opened in 2002 that the 12th man tradition again swept Seattle's fandom.

The playoffs - with the No. 12 flag waving high atop Seattle's Space Needle and another one flapping in the south end of the stadium - have finally exposed Seattle's 12th man tradition to the rest of the nation, and a stunned College Station, Texas - the official Home of the 12th Man, legally speaking.

Texas A&M officials are hot over what athletic director Bill Byrne termed Seattle's "brazen use of the 12th Man theme" in his Wednesday Internet column.

A&M, whose 12th Man tradition dates to 1922, holds two trademark registrations on "12th Man." Secured in 1990 and '96, the trademarks include entertainment services, "namely organizing and conducting intercollegiate sporting events," and products.

Byrne wrote that the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills had previously halted 12th-man themes after the university made them aware of the trademarks. A&M has contacted the Seahawks twice.

Lance Lopes, the Seahawks' vice president of corporate partnerships/legal affairs, said he would not comment on whether the team would meet A&M's request.

"I will say this," Lopes said. "Our fans have been the folks that have run with the 12th man. It has not been the organization itself. "

SEAHAWKS: Next weekend will be extra special for Kathy Holmgren.

Coach Mike Holmgren's wife will not be in Detroit. She'll join the couple's daughter Calla, a doctor, on a trip to the Republic of Congo as part of a Northwest Medical Teams venture.

Kathy was a medical missionary in the early 1970s when she first traveled to the African nation to do volunteer work. Back then the country was known as Zaire. This time she's returning to the same town where she did her work in what the coach described as "a dream come true for her."

Mike Holmgren gave his wife the trip as a Christmas present. So it was planned well before the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl. And her absence in Detroit might be a good thing.

"She gets kind of nervous (at games) anyway," Holmgren said.

But Kathy won't leave before she helps her husband pack for the Super Bowl.

"She's going to direct traffic that way," Holmgren said. "I know I have to wear a couple of neckties. I have to get rid of the shorts, I suppose. We're going to Detroit."

Around the league

RAIDERS/LIONS: Two days after interviewing in Oakland for its coaching job, Mike Martz pulled his name out of consideration and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the situation in Oakland just didn't feel right. He spoke with Detroit president Matt Millen about working as offensive coordinator there and is scheduled to speak with new Lions coach Rod Marinelli today.

CHARGERS: Offensive line coach Jack Henry agreed to a two-year contract, his second stint with the club. He spent the last six seasons with the Saints.