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Peyton Manning to own 21 Papa John’s pizza locations in Denver area

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Peyton Manning (r.) gets hooked on the taste of success. (AP)

If you've watched any NFL football games this season — and since you're reading this blog, we'll assume that you have — you have undoubtedly seen Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning starring in a new commercial for Papa John's pizza, appearing alongside CEO and founder John Schnatter and promising 2 million free pizzas to fans who win weekly drawings.

Manning teases the viewer at the end of the spot by saying "Wait'll you see what's next." On Friday morning, we may have received a glimpse of what's next as Papa John's announced that Manning will become the chain's newest franchisee, opening 21 locations in the Denver area, the Associated Press reports.

"He's the kind of partner we're looking for, not only in marketing but in business," Papa John's chief marketing officer, Andrew Varga said of Manning.

The Louisville, Ky.-based company is the third-largest pizza chain in the world and is in the third year of a multi-year sponsorship agreement with the NFL. Manning appeared as a referee who incorrectly hears the coin toss in the company's Coin Toss Experience commercial for Super Bowl XLVI.

Released by the Indianapolis Colts after missing the 2011 season with a neck injury, Manning signed a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos on March 21. The contract includes $58 million in guaranteed money, but the Broncos could get out from under the remaining $40 million in guarantees by releasing Manning if he fails to pass a physical after the 2012 season.

Manning has missed just one snap in 2012 and his 105.0 passer rating is the second-highest in the NFL, trailing only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Opening 21 pizza locations could be taken as a sign that Manning intends to stay healthy and remain in the Denver area for the foreseeable future.

"It's a smart investment now and will be long after I'm done playing football," Manning said.

Let's just hope Manning leaves the rapping to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

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