Now that Johnny Football and his 12th Man have ended their college football season, and done quite well, thank you very much, the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks and their version of the 12th Man are getting lots of air time. My son, who was raised amid Aggie traditions, knows all about the original 12th Man and was a bit miffed that Seattle didn’t bother to come up with their own identifying characteristic, as he pointed out on his Facebook page: “ Seattle Seahawks are lame; com up with your own nickname. There is only one 12th Man and we all know where they are from!”
Well, if you are from Texas you probably know that the 12th Man is the embodiment of the spirit of Aggieland, that is, Texas A&M University, but there might be those of you not from Texas and perhaps from Seattle who don’t know the story of the first 12th Man.
January, 1922; the underdog Aggies were playing the nation’s top-ranked Centre College team and were losing players to injury at an alarming rate. Coach Dana X. Bible sent for E. King Gill, a player who had not been practicing with the team in order to focus on basketball, who was identifying players for reporters in the press box. Gill suited up and stood ready if his team needed him. At the end of the game, which the Aggies managed to win 22-14, Gill was the only man left standing on the A&M sidelines. Later, he said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”
Since the 1940s the A&M student body has stood during the entire game to support their team.
And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”