Special to NYSportsJournalism
March 19, 2012: While free agent quarterback Peyton Manning was still deciding where he would play football in 2012, he had up-close and personal contact with coaches and executives from the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans.
Although Manning ultimate chose the Broncos, he still could end up being a Titan - truck owner, that is.
Nissan America, based in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tenn., said prior to Manning's decision, that it would "sweeten the deal" for Manning to sign with the Titans by offering to "make Manning a Titan."
Or, as Nissan America clarified, "build" Manning a 2012 Nissan Titan Pro-4X pickup truck.
According to the company, on its Web site and Facebook page, Nissan has extended the offer in an open letter to Manning. However, Nissan said it would make Manning a Titan regardless of the NFL team he chooses. Manning had yet to respond to the offer.
"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," Nissan wrote in an open letter to Manning.
Manning, who played college football for the University of Tennessee before being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 as the NFL's No. 1 overall pick, does not have a truck or car maker among his marketing partners.
"The Nissan Titan V-8 engine is built in Tennessee," Brian Carolin, svp-sales and marketing for Nissan North America, said in a statement. "And even more poetically for Mr. Manning, the Titan itself is assembled in a place called Canton."
Nissan's Open Letter to Peyton Manning
We hope it's okay to be informal and call you Peyton. You've been like one of the family to sports fans, especially Tennesseans, since your record-setting college days at the University of Tennessee.
Like you, we at Nissan North America were not all born to Rocky Top. But it is now home to our corporate headquarters and three manufacturing facilities employing more than 6,000 Tennesseans.
At Nissan, we too have fans all over the U.S.A. and we appreciate them all. And like all of your fans, we're awaiting your decision on where to play next season. 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.
We extend this offer on behalf of a nation of football fans and Nissan fans, not necessary to influence your decision. So next time you're in Nashville, give us a call and we'll bring the keys.
Nissan North America