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THE 12th MAN

Texas A&M University

1922

E. King Gill Takes His Stand

Before he became the first 12th Man, an Aggie by the name of E. King Gill was simply a squad player for Texas A&M’s football team — and little did he know that his willingness to serve would become his legacy, one that lives on more than 90 years later as 38,000 students stand for every Texas A&M home game.

On Jan. 2, 1922, the heavily outgunned Aggies were facing the top-ranked Centre College Praying Colonels on the gridiron in the Dixie Classic in Dallas. Gill was up in the press box helping reporters identify players on the field below — and what was happening on the field wasn't pretty.

The Aggies found themselves plagued by injuries, with their reserves seemingly dwindling with every play. As Texas A&M Coach Dana X. Bible looked across his rapidly emptying bench, he suddenly remembered Gill's presence in the stands. Bible waved Gill down to the sideline and told him to suit up. Gill ran under the bleachers and put on the uniform of injured running back Heine Weir, who had been knocked out of the game in the first quarter.

Gill returned to the sideline, where he stood ready to play for the entirety of the game. When the last play was run, the Aggies found that they had pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history, winning the game 22-14.

And Gill remained standing, the only player left on the team's bench.

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1930

Aggie Band Spells 12th Man

As the spirit of the 12th Man is embraced by the Texas A&M student body, references to the tradition begin appearing around campus, including this formation by the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.

1941

"12th Man" Is Written By Lil Munnerlyn

College Station resident Lil Munnerlyn pens "The Twelfth Man," a song that makes its debut at a yell practice. Today, the song is sung only after the Aggies have lost, as the words take on a special meaning at that time.

1950

12th Man Foundation Forms

The Aggie Club — which is later renamed the 12th Man Foundation — is formed. During its first year of operation, the organization raises $16,182 in annual donations. Today, the 12th Man Foundation strives to continue Texas A&M's athletic success by funding scholarships, programs and facilities in support of championship athletics. Opportunities to support the Foundation’s mission also extend to current students who participate in the 12th Man Student Foundation, a recognized student group that supports Texas A&M Athletics.

Visit 12th Man Foundation Learn more about the 12th Man Student Foundation
1968

Aggies Unveil Banner

The student body rallies behind the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Football team, displaying a banner from the student section that reads “The Twelfth Man Is Here."

1974

E. King Gill Dies

The original 12th Man — who went on to become a physician after his graduation from Texas A&M in 1924 — passes away at his home in Rockport, Texas. He was 74 years old.

1980

12th Man Statue Debuts On Campus

A life-size bronze statue of E. King Gill is unveiled on at the north entrance of Kyle Field on March 1. The sculpture was created by Houston artist George E. "Pat" Foley (1922-1998) as a gift to the university from the Class of 1980. The statue remained in its original location until the redevelopment of Kyle Field in 2014. It now stands in Rudder Plaza.

1983

12th Man Kickoff Team Is Created

Jackie Sherrill creates a special teams unit made up completely of walk-on players. During the first season, the 12th Man kickoff team allowed only 13.1 yards per return. Over the next five seasons, the 12th Man kickoff team led the nation in yards per return twice, and finished in the top five in that category each year.

1985

Students Create The 12th Man Towel

The 12th Man Towel is created in the fall of 1985 by Rusty Riley and Kyle Harris, then president and vice president of the 12th Man Student Aggie Club, with the help of Gary Leach and Larry Leach, then club secretary and treasurer. The tradition has grown over the years, creating a daunting show of force by the 12th Man at Kyle Field as the Aggies wave their towels.

1988

"Home of the 12th Man" Added To Kyle Field

"Home of the 12th Man" lettering is placed on the student section of Kyle Field. The lettering, which has become an iconic feature of the stadium, was donated by the Class of 1988.

1990

12th Man Kickoff Team Becomes One Player

R.C. Slocum reduces the 12th Man kickoff team from ten walk-ons to one walk-on player wearing the number 12. This tradition is carried on today.

1990

12th Man Trademark Issued To Texas A&M

Since 1990, Texas A&M has been the sole owner of the 12th Man trademark, a term that represents the university's tradition dating back to 1922.

Trademark Registration
1996

12th Man Trademark Declared Incontestable

After six years of owning the trademark, Texas A&M files a Section 15 Declaration of Incontestability. The 12th Man trademark gained incontestable status, meaning that it will forevermore belong to Texas A&M.

2006

Student Section Called The Best In College Football

ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit calls the 12th Man the best student section in college football after a visit to campus.

2006

Texas A&M Signs Deal With Seattle Seahawks

Texas A&M reaches a licensing agreement with the Seattle Seahawks. The agreement allows the Seahawks organization to use "12th Man" in a limited fashion. Seattle can only use the term on promotional materials in seven western states and cannot sell any merchandise with "12th Man" on it.

Read Agreement
2007

Texas A&M Signs Deal With Buffalo Bills

Texas A&M grants a license to the Buffalo Bills to feature "12th Man" on the side of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills' home stadium.

Read Agreement
2011

Texas A&M Renews Deal With Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks licensing agreement is renewed for another five-year term.

Read Agreement
2011

Texas A&M Gameday Is Named #1 Gameday Experience

A preseason edition of Sports Illustrated names Texas A&M the top gameday environment in college football.

2012

Texas A&M Joins the SEC

Texas A&M officially becomes a member of the storied Southeastern Conference on July 1. The historic move elevates Texas A&M to the national stage, while providing greater financial opportunity and conference stability.

2014

New 12th Man Statue Unveiled

A larger-than-life statue of E. King Gill is unveiled on the east plaza of Kyle Field as part of the field's redevelopment. The bronze statue, created by Dallas artist Robert Hogan, stands at 12 feet tall and weighs in at 1,700 pounds.

2014

12th Man Flag Raised At Kyle Field

The 12th Man flag flies in Aggieland for the first time as part of the pregame activities at the redeveloped Kyle Field. The student-driven flag-raising is overseen by Traditions Council, a student organization charged with promoting and preserving university traditions. For each home game, Traditions Council selects a different student organization to raise the flag.

2014

AggieAthletics.com Becomes 12thMan.com

Texas A&M Athletics changes its digital home from AggieAthletics.com to 12thMan.com. The move is made as part of Texas A&Ms efforts to increase awareness of its ownership of the 12th Man trademark and its relationship to Texas A&M Athletics. Additionally, Texas A&M Athletics begins using @12thMan on both Twitter and Instagram.

Visit 12thMan.com
2015

A New Home for the 12th Man

Texas A&M will complete the largest and most extensive stadium redevelopment project in the history of college athletics this year. With a staggering capacity of 102,512, including the largest student section in the country, the 12th Man continues to make Kyle Field one of the nation's most intimidating college football venues.

Visit Kyle Field

Summary

Record Student Attendance

40,032

Texas A&M students who set the NCAA record for largest student section attendance in 2014. An average of 38,000 students stand ready as the modern day 12th Man for every home football game.

Years Since E. King Gill

93

Years Since Trademark

24

Trademark Infringement Issues

550+

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014

Licenses Issued

2

Only two teams have license agreements to use “12th Man” in limited fashion.

The 12th Man trademark is now legally considered incontestable. However, in the years since the trademark was issued, Texas A&M has fought over 550 infringement issues — and as the awareness of the university's brand increases, the number of infringements decreases.

  • In 1922, the 12th Man tradition started at Texas A&M. In 1990, Texas A&M obtained a federal registration of the 12th Man trademark. This trademark is incontestible.
  • Texas A&M licensed limited uses of its 12th Man trademark to the Seattle Seahawks in 2006.
  • In 2007, Texas A&M granted a limited license to the Buffalo Bills to feature "12th Man" inside the Ralph Wilson Stadium.