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Manning Chooses Denver Despite Tennessee Waltz by Vols Fans (and Nissan)

Posted by Dale Buss on March 19, 2012 12:28 PM

In the old days, states and cities used to go after one another hammer-and-tong to land a big new manufacturing plant with millions of dollars in tax rebates, road construction and other financial incentives. Just bring the jobs, they said, and all these goodies are available to you.

Today's equivalent is the chase to bring Peyton Manning to either Tennessee, San Francisco or Denver. The Titans, 49ers and Broncos were all in the running to sign the future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback now that he and the Indianapolis Colts have parted ways.

And while Manning has decided he's heading to the Denver Broncos, at least one brand tried to woo the legendary quarterback to its homestate: Tennessee-based Nissan.

Nissan has said that it is extending the "housewarming gift" of a 2012 Nissan Titan Pro-4X pickup truck to Manning no matter which team he chooses. And it's not like Manning can't afford a whole fleet of vehicles, so perhaps the vehicle will be donated to charity in Manning's name.

Nissan has become a major employer in Tennessee over the last quarter-century of building vehicles there, at a complex in Smyrna and another in Decherd, and is headquartered in Franklin in suburban Nashville. Manning, of course, made his name as a college football star and an orange-clad University of Tennessee "Vol."

"You've been like one of the family to sports fans, especially Tennesseans, since your record-setting college days at the University of Tennessee," the automaker wrote in an "open letter" to Manning published on its Facebook page. "While we are in no position to sign you to any particular NFL franchise, we at Nissan North America want to make you a Titan — a 2012 Nissan Titan — as a gesture of gratitude recognizing your great accomplishments and philanthropic contributions to our national community."

There's no mention what the sight of handing Manning the keys to a new Titan could do for the pickup-truck line, which has always trailed competition from GM, Ford, Chrysler and even Toyota in the hearts of American pickup buyers. And pickup customers, of course, cross-index highly with NFL fans.

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