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Peyton Manning new owner of 21 Denver-area Papa Johns franchises

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Peyton Manning's spent roughly 5 billion minutes in 2012 trying to convince Papa John's owner John Schattner to give away an extra million pizzas this season.

Now Manning's got his chance to sling the pies himself: The Associated Press reports that Manning is the proud new owner of 21 Papa John's franchises in the Denver area.

"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.

Manning and Schattner actually became buddies at the 2011 Super Bowl, which is logical. I once interviewed the Papa on Radio Row and he told me he's a huge Colts fan, which means he's a big Manning fan as well, obviously. And they've been banging out cheesy (yes, intended) commercials ever since, including this gem:

Yes, by "gem" I mean "piece of advertising that reached an unholy level of annoying by Week 2 of the 2012 season." But good news sports fans -- Peyton and Papa will have a new commercial that debuts on Sunday night.

It'll feature Peyton, as a new franchise owner, talking about giving away free pizzas (presumably when the Broncos win?) and helping fans learn how they too can buy into the unstoppable pizza machine that is the Papa John's franchise.

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

Manning's right. And his decision to not just get paid by Papa but also invest into the pizza company is part of a growing trend we're seeing around sports. Athletes are beginning more and more to actually get some sort of equity into their pitches, which is a smart move for the long-term.

Spokesman gigs are, for the most part, fleeting. But investments into quality companies (Tom Brady also did this with Under Armor and UGGs) are the type of thing that can help sustain long-term financial growth.

At the very least, Peyton will never have to worry about feeding his family.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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