Hey Dude Don’t Dis the 12

In the world of NFL, the balance between business and sport is precariously positioned. On one hand the owners of the respective teams effectively control the NFL and employ its Commissioner, Roger Goodell. The bottom line is always profitability to the owners, albeit with regular player disputes and subsequent strikes in relation to collective bargaining agreements over what is an equitable share of the returns back to the players.

Most of the owners are astute enough to understand that the sport revolves around two key components for their entertainment dollar, the players and the fans. While some fans get short shrift from the owners, recent St Louis/Los Angeles Rams an example, the astute owner understands the power of the people.

The Players, well the sport couldn’t continue without the combatants. Some clubs have pandered too much to the stars and the egos of the competition. Johnny Manziel at Cleveland Browns has continued to push the boundaries while keeping the Brown’s Owner Jimmy Haslam onside, however after continued partying, even Manziel’s position on the roster is becoming questionable.

Robert Griffin III at Washington was unmoveable, a favourite with owner Daniel Snyder until a recent series of injuries forced Redskins to use back up QB Kirk Cousins and consequently a winning season and happier Redskins outfit, let’s see what happens with RG III now, perhaps a move to Dallas and Jerry Jones owner and General Manager. Cowboy’s QB Tony Romo is a favourite of Jones and retained while most pundits queried his ability and he continues to struggle with injury prone seasons.

There are whispers that maybe Jones will recruit Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Texas A&M and Jones lobbied hard for him in 2014.

But you see the trend, Club owners tend get emotional when it comes to the Quarterback, the key player on the field and usually in the off-field marketing of the team.

Now when it comes to the fans, there are some owners who are actively engaged in supporter activities and others less so, see St Louis above.

One club that has been particularly proactive is Seattle Seahawks. Their fans are particularly vocal and very loud. CenturyLink Stadium enters the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Loudest Stadium after achieving a read of 137.6 decibels for a game against New Orleans.

This is no fluke, Seahawks owner Paul Allen had the Stadium re-designed to ensure the fans would be heard in a very loud way. This impacts opposition teams in not being able to correctly hear play calls and as a result plenty of false start penalties are racked up by opposition teams. The Club actively promotes this passion challenging fans to get louder and registering how many false start penalties are achieved per home game.

The Seattle Seahawks also recognised their fans in a very special way. NFL teams consist of 11 players on the field at any one time. The fans are called the 12th man, a bit different to Cricket’s version.

In 1984 the Seahawks retired the Number 12 jersey in honour of their fans. In 2003, 12 original season ticket holders hoisted the flag prior to kickoff establishing a tradition before every home game. In subsequent years flag raisers have ranged from past players to local personalities enduring a strong and passionate following among Seattle fans.

Season 2015-16 witnessed the rise of Cam Newton, Carolina Panther’s star Quarterback. Newton has excelled in a running and passing game, taking his team to the Super Bowl with only one defeat in the season and is odds-on to win the League’s MVP.

Newton is also a player not lacking in confidence, he is an entertaining player with an ability to rile opposition supporters with his on-field antics, however off-field he is well spoken and thoughtful.

There is a storm brewing with Seattle and Carolina’s Newton.

Newton does not like to see anything supporting visiting teams at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Earlier in the season he tore down a Green Bay Packer’s sign, and in a later game grabbed a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jamis Whinston jersey from a fan.

Nothing too dramatic or controversial until Carolina played Seattle in an NFC Championship Game. After the Panthers won the game, Newton did a lap handing out high-fives to the crowd and inexplicably a Seattle fan waved a “12” flag directly at the Carolina QB. Newton did what he does, grabbed it from the fan and threw it to the ground.

Dude, you don’t dis the 12!

Social media went into overdrive, at least from the Seattle fans. With fans labelling Newton’s action bad sportsmanship and other invective hypebole the ranting and raving would normally be allowed to settle. I mean really? It’s just a flag and it’s just what he does?

You don’t know Seattle fans.

A petition has been presented for signatures to support banning Cam Newton from ever being allowed to enter CenturyLink Stadium, it reads;

“Cam Newton is one of the most unprofessional, unsportsmanlike individual on the face of the planet. So I say for the 2016-2017 when the Panthers come to play in Seattle he should be banned from entering the stadium. This should teach him to put his arrogance in check!!”

With close to 2,000 signatures and a wave of promotion through the media, the number is sure to rise, but really do we care? This is taking the passion too far. Next we will start seeing Law suits claiming unspecified damages from a supporter for emotional duress.

Can you imagine this fanatic response from any of the AFL supporters? Has there been any overboard pining or dummy spitting as a result of the club being dissed? Does it happen at A-League?

Of course none of this will gain any serious response from the NFL, the player in question is hot property, and the owners think its great theatre to promote the sport and of course Seattle can’t wait for Newton’s next home game at CenturyLink. Can you imagine the noise at that game, the demand for tickets would be huger as would the over-saturated media interest in the game?

Great for business great for the fans and great for entertainment or was that sport?

About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.


  1. http://time.com/4197624/pakistan-india-flag-arrest-virat-kohli/ – not a one-eyed supporter but a genuine cricket fan busted!

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