Marcus Mariota mania begins in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Let the Marcus Mariota mania in Middle Tennessee begin.

Actually, it started around 7:30 p.m. Thursday when the Tennessee Titans picked the Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner as the second selection in the 2015 NFL draft.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of jerseys with Mariota’s name on them were quickly printed up and sold at the Titans official shop at LP Field shortly after the announcement.

Those in the shop were mum on how many had been sold “but it’s been more than any other quarterback in the past year,” grinned store manager Pete Wibbenmeyer.

“We double checked, and triple checked the spelling,” said Wibbenmeyer as he carefully crafted the new quarterback’s name on the team jersey over the number eight. “We did not want to make a mistake on this one.”

Angie Helbig of Hendersonville beamed as she bought the first female-size Titans jersey made in the shop with Mariota’s name on it.

“Well, I was really excited that we got him,” she told News 2 after buying the jersey. “I think he has got a good head on his shoulders and think he’ll be really good for our team.”

While Mariota is quickly becoming the best-known current Titan on the team, the 21-year-old Oregon grad is already a legend in his native Hawaii. Just ask members of a three-person TV crew from the KITV, the ABC affiliate in Honolulu who was doing live shots outside Nashville’s LP Field for his station thousands of miles away.

Reporter Mike Cherry said they had been in Chicago until late Thursday night before catching an early morning flight to Nashville for Mariota’s initial news conference late Friday afternoon at the Titan’s facility.

“I have known him and followed him since he was a high school star,” the Honolulu reporter told News 2.”The great thing about Marcus is that he has remained the same person since I started covering him as a 17-year-old kid—humble, polite.”

Cherry thinks a smaller NFL market like Nashville as opposed to New York or Philadelphia will be an advantage.

“I think the culture is going to be perfect for him here,” added Cherry. “He is going to have time to groom himself away from the bright lights of those bigger markets.”

He continued, “Nashville seems like a close-knit, family-oriented community and that is exactly what Marcus needs to make this transition to the NFL.”

Cherry said the quarterback, who is of Polynesian descent, already has numerous endorsement deals in Hawaii.

Many more businesses are likely when the college-star hits Music City with the expectation that he can be the foundation of turning around the fortunes of a 2-14 team.

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