Texas A&M Complain to Bills for Using ’12th Man’ Slogan
Talk about picking on the little guy.
SEC powerhouse Texas A&M University lodged two complaints this week against four Buffalo Bills fans for using a website with a common football phrase that infringed on its trademark. The school also held out the possibility of legal action.
One of targets is Charles “Chuckie” Sonntag, a double amputee and cancer survivor. He co-founded 12thManThunder.com website to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Texas A&M owns the rights to the term “the 12th man.” Sonntag, who overcame cancer last year, has suffered since childhood from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, also known as Albright’s disease, He lost his left arm 20 years ago, and his left leg was amputated in March.
“My experience has proven two things: a handicapped person can accomplish just about anything – and Texas A&M will sue just about anybody,” Sonntag said.
The university, which has a $5 billion endowment, was notified by an attorney of Sonntag’s disabilities, but that hasn’t stopped it from playing hardball – and potentially threatening Sonntag, who lives on an $825-a-month Social Security check. Sonntag came up with the idea of starting the website to rally fan support to keep the Bills here after learning of Ralph Wilson’s death. His website associates are three friends: Charles Pellien, Anthony Lynch and Paul Roorda. Since the website was launched, more than 10,000 fans have signed a petition to keep the Bills in Buffalo.
The Bills fans – three are from Orchard Park, and the fourth from South Buffalo – say they cooperated by changing the name to “BillsFanThunder.com.” However, Texas A&M, Sonntag said, was not satisfied with the pace.