Fans of Tennessee Volunteers Should Still Embrace Peyton Manning: Middle Tennessean’s Take

Eat (expletive) peyton.

That was the response from the administrator of the Facebook community Come Home Peyton. CHP had also created a website that collected donations for advertisements that encouraged Peyton Manning to join the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Those advertisements were to be displayed through radio, video, and billboards throughout Indianapolis. That website (while it's still active) can be seen here.

The Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Titans were considered as the frontrunners to acquire Manning after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts in March. The Broncos have reportedly reached an agreement with Manning that could be worth approximately $95 million over five years.

I expected there to be backlash with any decision that didn't involve Tennessee. However, I'm surprised at how much of it has come from Tennessee Volunteers fans. Some fans have gone as far as saying that they'll burn their Manning gear because he isn't returning to Tennessee. Let's not get into the "Neck" comments or things I've heard about his house…

3 Hour Lunch (3HL) is a sports-talk show on 104.5 FM in Nashville. The show is broadcast during most weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. CT. Clay Travis is one of the hosts. Travis is a lifelong Volunteer fan who ironically received his law degree from Vanderbilt University. On the March 19th broadcast, Travis claimed that Manning was "Dead to him." He also wished for him to go through the ultimate embarrassment in professional football: the 0-16 season (Dum dum dum!)

Here's my advice to anyone who is acting like Manning has committed a capital crime against Tennessee: Breathe. Chill. Relax. Eat a Moon Pie. On second thought, skip that last suggestion.

The Tennessee Volunteers are not the Tennessee Titans. The 1997-98 college football season was during Manning's senior year. Manning played despite graduating after his junior season . The Titans hadn't even completed their relocation into a new stadium in Nashville until the 1999-00 season. Manning was already in his sophomore campaign with the Colts.

I agree that Denver was the least-favorable destination amongst the aforementioned teams. The Titans would've given Manning the most love (to an obsessive state). The 49ers should've given him the best opportunity to win a Super Bowl. Regardless, the fact is that he chose the Broncos. Whether that's for money, salary-cap flexibility, John Elway, or the fear of a circus in Nashville? That's his American right.

At least the General Assembly of Tennessee won't have to worry about creating a 16th month or 18th month for "Peyton Manning Day" in 2016 or 2018.

I'm also a Packers fan and I know how there are people who still hate Brett Favre because he played for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are considered as one of their top rivals. Favre's legacy has been tarnished in some eyes because of this treasonous act. While Manning never did on-and-off retirements, he wasn't forced into signing with another AFC South rival. I wouldn't blame him for not wanting to alienate the Colts fans that he entertained from 1998-2011.

Manning never snubbed any Volunteers fans from this decision. Knoxville is three hours away from Nashville. Manning owes nothing to the Titans franchise. Likewise, they owe him nothing. Manning's allegiance only goes as far as East Tennessee and the University of Tennessee.

Now you can either hop on this here bandwagon with Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck or you can get run over. It's your choice, my fellow Americans.

Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.

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Updated Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012