It must have been the world record the noisy Seattle fans set on Sunday night, because apparently a few bandwagon 49ers fans just heard about the 12th Man for the first time.
That is the only reasonable explanation for the noise complaint filed by the neighbors way down in San Francisco -- people apparently unfamiliar with the idea of home-field advantage in sports.
The 12th Man has been around since the Seahawks first populated the Kingdome back in 1976. And the Kingdome really got rocking when Chuck Knox arrived in 1983 and led the Hawks to the playoffs. In fact, the team retired the No. 12 in honor of the fans in 1984 as the Hawks were busy finishing their best season to date (12-4).
But as the 1980s wore on and opposing teams got tired of trying to shout above the din of the Kingdome's deafening denizens, NFL owners actually voted to shut up the fans. The 1989 rule covered the entire league, but everyone knew it was aimed mostly at the Seahawks, their 12th Man and the Kingdome.
Knox was incensed by the rule, accusing owners of trying to "take away our fans' right to participate in the game."
In a preseason game against San Francisco in 1989, the league tried to send the 12th Man a message right away. Quarterback Steve Young appealed to referee Red Cashion three times, and Cashion threw three flags against the Hawks. Of course, all each hanky did was incite the crowd even more. It was comical -- and the league should have known that was the Pandora's Box it was opening.
As Paul Moyer, a safety for those Seahawks, said: "We're trying to get them (the fans) to tone it down, and they are getting louder. How can you penalize 67,000 people?"
Knox was still ticked off about the rule as the season opener approached. He said they should create a rule against throwing dog bones, as fans in Cleveland's Dawg Pound did, and one against throwing snowballs, as fans in Denver often did.
Commissioner Pete Rozelle apparently heard the wisdom of Knox's words, because on the eve of the season Rozelle told his officials to be judicious in penalizing home teams and also to penalize any offense that did not run a play when the officials thought it was quiet enough to do so.
Rozelle effectively vetoed the owners' vote.
In a game at the Kingdome that October, Denver QB John Elway stepped away from center three times and the referee warned the crowd three times -- but he never threw a flag. And then Elway was sacked by Seattle's speedy pass rusher, Rufus Porter.
In 1990, the raucous 12th Man helped Porter dominate the Cincinnati Bengals in a memorable Monday night upset by the Seahawks, and Bengals coach Sam Wyche said, "The fans were great to Seattle and not abusive to us, but obviously there is no crowd noise rule anymore."
The rule actually remained on the books until March 2007, when NFL owners quietly killed it.
They did so even though the Seahawks' outdoor stadium, which opened in 2002, had become every bit as loud as their indoor concrete mausoleum had been.
It was so loud for one game during the Seahawk's 2005 Super Bowl season that the Giants were called for 11 false starts. The next year, as the Giants reluctantly returned to Seattle, All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan told reporters it was the loudest stadium he had ever been to.
"You can barely hear yourself talk. You can barely hear yourself think, actually," he said. "It's not just you against the Seahawks. This truly is a 12th man-type situation where you're playing against the fans, too."
A couple of seemingly new 49ers fans just found that out.
This story draws from a chapter in my book, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping and Gut-Wrenching Moments in Seattle Seahawks History."