ComeHomePeyton

Online campaign beckons, "Come Home Peyton"

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A Tennessee football fan has a desperate plan to save his favorite professional team: Start a website to convince an aging, all-time great quarterback to spend the twilight of his career in the state where he was once a college star.

That’s what inspired ComeHomePeyton.com, created yesterday by Todd Mayo, an advertiser, amateur musician, and Tennessee native. He wants NFL star Peyton Manning—a legend when he was at the University of Tennessee (UT)—to come play for the Tennessee Titans.

Manning is the most decorated player in UT history, but his career there fell slightly short: He never won a national title and was snubbed for the prestigious Heisman Trophy.

By some metrics Manning, 36, has since become the all-time most valuable player in the NFL, though he spent this season on the sidelines recovering from a neck injury, and it’s not even a guarantee he’ll be able to play again.

Manning is in a tricky situation with the Indianapolis Colts, where he’s played his entire pro career. The Colts’ record was so bad this season without Manning that they’ll get the first pick in the 2012 draft. Ironically, the team’s expected to take Stanford quarterback phenom Andrew Luck, a player with so much potential he’s being called, well, “the next Peyton Manning.”

That translates to opportunity for Mayo: crowdsource the sort of support necessary to convince Manning to request a trade to the Titans.

“I was born in Memphis, schooled in Knoxville, and I live in the middle, in Nashville,” Mayo, 39, told the Daily Dot. “It makes sense to me as a Tennessean, as a University of Tennessee fan, as a Titans fan, as a Manning fan.”

To that end, fans have already donated over $1,400 via PayPal to ComeHomePeyton.com. Mayo has purchased radio airtime to play his message to Manning on Tuesday on 1070 The Fan, an Indianapolis sports radio station.

Mayo’s activism doesn’t stop there. As the author of what he calls “Weird-Al Yankovian sports parodies,” he’s made music videos imitating Eminem, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Grateful Dead to drum up support.

“It’s tongue in cheek,” Mayo says, “but it is an earnest endeavor to affect change via fanvertising.”

He’s optimistic the cash will continue to roll in. He received a $400 donation on Tuesday morning alone.

“With $10,000, we could cover the town in billboards,” he said. “Everybody’s in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl this week.”

It’s a long shot, but Mayo thinks it can work.

“Once you’re a Tennessean, you stay a Tennessean,” he says.

Photo by ComeHomePeyton.com