Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Battle to Be the Best 12th Man

The nation has become enamored with the 12th Man. And unfortunately for Aggies... it's not our 12th Man. The Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, thereby guaranteeing that every talking head guy on every sports media outlet will be obligated to mention the 12th Man each and every day until February 2nd (right after the, “is Richard Sherman a head case or a calculated mastermind?” segment).

Can you believe some cannabis-crazed team in the far Northwest is trying to steal our thunder? Have they no respect for the hallowed grounds of Kyle Field

Ok, no more deprecating humor, I just wanted to fit in the clever "cannabis-crazed" alliteration tidbit.

I love Texas A&M and all that it represents. And the 12th Man is a vital and irreplaceable part of my yearly pilgrimages to College Station. So, as an Aggie, should I care about the Seahawks "hijacking" our slogan? Am I not red-ass enough if my panties aren't severely wadded in my red-ass?

Honestly, I don't know (polarizing, I know).

The NFL is the most popular sport in America and, whether Aggies like it or not, I would say that the majority of sports fans out there will now associate the 12th Man with Seattle, as opposed to its original home, Texas A&M. Sure, we have the 12th Man legally trademarked, but that doesn't mean much in the way of subjective national association. The world is infatuated with the Super Bowl.  And currently the Super Bowl pits Peyton Manning against Richard Sherman (LUNATIC OR LEGEND?!?!?!?!) and the 12th Man. Their 12th Man train is only gaining steam.

Now Texas A&M isn’t really hurting for national attention or admiration. We (mainly because of Johnny and the SEC) are one of the hottest flavors on the collegiate football map.  But very little of our current “spice” is attributed to the 12th Man. People won’t deny the 12th Man or the atmosphere if you give them the relative information, but nobody is lining up to publicize it like the media is doing for Seattle now.

Back in 2006, the Seattle Seahawks and Texas A&M came to an agreement in which Seattle could use the 12th Man trademark.  The agreement called for Seattle to pay Texas A&M a $100,000 lump sum payment (or approximately 1/4th of what they are paying the LAST guy on their bench) at the time of the agreement along with $5,000 per year (or the same price as this Sony TV at Best Buy) during the course of the five year agreement. Seattle also retained the option to extend the agreement for an additional five years. They smartly did so (they already have enough HD TVs at their complex).  Now I am no lawyer nor do I know anything about trademark laws, but I feel like Texas A&M might not be feeling too rosy about this one. If anything, Seattle obviously liked it enough to re-up. Fran must have been behind this.  

So what do we do now? As Shane Hinkley, the Assistant Vice President of Business Development, told Good Bull Hunting, in regards to potential trademark violations, “It’s something that is very difficult to police and something that we are actively involved in.” Translation: we can’t do crap. Chasing tangible trademark violations (like selling memorabilia using the trademark) isn’t the issue. It is the dilution of a brand. I mean if somebody said both the Seahawks and the Aggies claim the 12th Man, I bet half the nation would think we stole it from them. 

I think this puts us (diehard Aggies) in a weird, no-win situation. If we try to fight this nationally and get ourselves in the headlines we will look childish and whiny. Nobody cares if we have the trademark. Are we really going to tell a bunch of raucous football fans they can’t call themselves the 12th Man? Sure, it doesn’t hold the same historic meaning for them, but nobody besides Aggies care about E. King Gill coming down from the stands in 1922 to actually be the 12th active member of an injury-riddled team. That’s our story, nobody else’s. If you take the glass-half-full approach we can at least revel in the notion that our historically inspirational story actually turned into a valuable trademark (well, that depends on how much you like Sony TVs). But I highly doubt that any annoyed Aggie is taking solace in such things.

The 12th Man up in Seattle is a growing national force due to mainstream media. No way around it. Maybe a national championship run next year can help us take back some of the 12th Man momentum. But until then all we can do is hope the Seattle fad fades and we can rightfully take back our 12th Man crown.

Or maybe we can go against the grain and start claiming the 13th Man?

(I am kidding, geez).

Monday, January 6, 2014

Draft Ponderings

Ben has been lazy, so I enticed him with an email exchange and asked him how he felt about our coordinators going into next year... he responded with quite the NFL draft tangent...

Mike Evans just officially declared for the NFL Draft. Whoa. The thought of him leaving was always present this year, but with the increased likelihood that Matthews and Manziel are destined to be top 10 picks, I actually thought Evans would stick around for another year. We've heard Sumlin is like a father figure to him, and with Big Kev staying in College Station I assumed his son figure (?) would follow suit. This definitely surprises me. McShay's Mock 1.0 had him going to the Baltimore Ravens in the latter half of the first round. Not too shabby... But Evans should go higher, right? The Peach Bowl (I refuse to call the bowls by their corporate names, because this is America damn-it!) definitely won't make an appearance of any Mike Evans highlight reels. However, his games against the state of Alabama alone are worthy of a top pick. I'm confident in saying we won't see another one like him in a long, long time in Aggieland. My hopes for RSJ are high, but Evans set the bar REALLY HIGH.

While on the Draft... I'm excited about our football program pumping out first round talent. This will be the third straight year A&M has produced a top-5 pick. When was the last time this happened? Has 'Bama done it recently? USC in their heyday? Miami? Texas? Can someone research this? Anyways, as great as it is to see so many Aggies getting drafted so early, the probability of them playing for a dumpster fire of an organization obviously goes up the earlier they are selected. We dodged a bullet two years ago when Von Miller was taken by a competent organization in the Denver Broncos, who also pounced on the opportunity that same off-season to sign arguably the best QB in modern NFL history. Von got skills, but Von also got lucky in what team selected him. Luke Joeckel falls on the other side of the draft coin. My heart broke when it got out that the Kansas City Chiefs were passing on our boy Luke and instead selecting some non-SEC spare tire from some off brand school in Michigan. Of course the Chiefs turned things around this year and are in the AFC playoffs (despite a very mediocre year from their non-SEC spare tire of a draft pick), while Joeckel's Jacksonville Jaguars did nothing in 2013 to dispel the belief that most people would rather eat a plate of cat poop than watch them play the game of football.

This is all to say that I'm terrified of what may become of our trio of Aggies entering this April's NFL draft. The all knowing pundits are predicting the Houston Texans (I hate them as a Dallas native, but they're at least a Texas team, tons of Aggies live in Houston, and they were considered Super Bowl favorites less than 4 months ago) selecting Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater with the first overall pick, letting Johnny slide to the next team desperate for a QB (unless one of those teams wants to draft Blake Bortles with the hope that his NFL career is as successful as his dating life). Have you looked at the draft order? The four teams following Houston resemble what I like to call NFL hell. St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Oakland. YIKES! It's looking like our boy Johnny Football is going to ply his trade in one of these three incredibly attractive-to-live-in-as-a-young-person locales: Jacksonville, Cleveland, or Oakland. I'm going to take a glass half full approach here: in Jacksonville he gets reunited with Joeckel, has a stellar receiver in Justin Blackmon to throw to (under the assumption that Jacksonville forgives him for his transgressions and brings him back), and the franchise is on total life support in the city of Jacksonville and could wind up in LA or London (can you imagine Manziel in Hollywood? Yes please.) In Cleveland he gets protected by one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and gets to do amazing things with my favorite fantasy draft pick of 2013, the man who brought me my title, Mr. Josh Gordon. I also see a depressing Midwestern city... 

Let's pause one moment to celebrate Cleveland in this wonderful tourism video...

Phew, I love that.

...totally falling for Manziel and turning him into a legend after one week. In Oakland... I got nothing. Oakland would be the worst. I have kicked around the idea of giving up on my Dallas Cowboys and rooting for whichever team selects Johnny Manziel. If it is Oakland, consider me still a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

So here's my hypothetical: if you're Jake Matthews or Johnny Manziel, do you sabotage (albeit very slightly) your draft prospects at the NFL Combine, the A&M pro day or in interviews and hope you slide to the middle of the first round to a more competent organization that may have just had a tough 2013 season? Yes, you're literally giving up millions of dollars, but you have to feel better about your chances making it up in your second contract after you've lit up the league for a few years playing for a well run organization in a city that actually pays to watch you play? You're really throwing your chances of success to the football gods when you get taken by a team like Oakland or Jacksonville. Even if you play well, it's likely the team around you is still going to suck and you're going to be miserable.

The draft is fun and having 3 Aggies projected as first rounders makes me damn near giddy for April.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Speedy Time

Pretty huge day when we are able to steal the #1 Athlete (which will obviously turn into WR) in America from swampy neighbors.  I bet Speedy is fast...