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Two great strategic minds go toe-to-toe in the university’s latest TV commercial. In the spot, UT scientist George Pharr squares off against Vol For Life Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Their chosen battlefield: a game of chess.

The spot will air during most televised Tennessee sporting events. Broadcast networks allot thirty seconds of free promotion time for each school during games.

3M1A9487Created by UT’s Department of Video and Photography, the spot highlights the university as a place where minds meet and exchange ideas. And that exchange can often lead to unpredictable results. Even if those results, as seen in the video, are stacking up one of Manning’s real-life football calls against Pharr’s fundamental equation of nanoindentation. It may not translate directly to chess, but it is fun to visualize.

The spot was filmed in the Ayres Hall Fourth Floor Colloquium Room, a space typically used for classes, seminars, and meetings. The commercial was planned for three months and filmed during an afternoon while Manning was on campus to present Peyton Manning Scholarships to incoming freshmen. Read more about this year’s recipients here.

3M1A9526Manning played quarterback for Tennessee from 1994 to 1997 and was selected first overall in the 1998 draft. He is beginning his eighteenth season in the NFL. A five-time NFL Most Valuable Player and fourteen-time Pro Bowler, he is a Super Bowl champion who holds the record for the most career touchdown passes in NFL history (530). A four-year letterman and 1997 All-American at Tennessee, Manning led the Vols to the 1997 SEC Championship. He owned a 39-6 record as the Vols’ starting quarterback and is the school’s career record holder in yards passing, touchdown passes, completions, completion percentage, and 300-yard games.

3M1A9593Professor Pharr was recently named Macebearer, the university’s highest faculty honor. He is director of the UT–ORNL Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, a Chancellor’s Professor, the McKamey Professor of Engineering, and a joint faculty scientist in the Materials Science and Technology Division at ORNL. His research focuses on nanoscale materials, and his work has the potential to affect everything from medicine to machines. Last year, Pharr was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor an engineer can achieve in the United States.