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Trucks for the Trenches

Trucks for the Trenches :

It’s the perennial post-NFL draft question for any high pick. What are you going to buy first with your signing bonus? To their credit, a lot of the guys get cars or houses for family members, paying them back for all the support over the years. But of course, there’s still plenty left over for a sweet ride.

When it comes down to a vehicle (or three) of choice, more often than not, guys drafted in glory positions like running back and tailback don’t hold back. And who can blame ’em? Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green, the 2011 number-four pick out of Georgia, bought a 2011 Porsche Panamera 4S around draft time last year. The 2011 number-six pick, Julio Jones, followed suit with a black Panamera a few months later. Kansas City safety Eric Berry, chosen sixth in 2010, picked a 1200-horsepower custom NZ1200 EB Chevy Camaro (a mere $149K), while Redskins number-two pick Robert Griffin III had the internet buzzing recently with sightings of his fiancée test-driving a Bentley, although Griffin’s father insists his son will stick with his tried-and-true Chrysler Pacifica.

But when it comes to the guys who guard the blind side and bludgeon open holes for top-five running backs—the offensive linemen—it seems like that first big vehicle purchase is none other than a pickup truck. When it comes to wheels, these unsung heroes of the NFL gravitate toward the unsung heroes of the industry (after all, pickups are the most popular style of car on the planet). Guess the new ride of Matt Kalil, the behemoth left tackle from USC who went number four in the 2012 draft to Minnesota. To celebrate his high draft status, Kalil bought a carbon-black Ford F-150 and tricked it out with a killer sound system, 22-inch rims and all-terrain tires. But in case some of the 43 other offensive linemen drafted in 2012 haven’t had a chance to purchase new wheels, we’ve put together a rundown of cool trucks for the trenches.

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The more you know, the more you tow. That’s the slogan for Dodge Ram, and it sounds like the kind of blue-collar motivator that would go over big in the trenches. If you want the ultimate option, go for the Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab Laramie Longhorn with the Max Tow Package. You’ll be able to haul up to 22,750 pounds (10-plus tons) and the Mega Cab means you can still drive when you and your QB go out on a double date. The 3500 line has a 6.7-liter turbo diesel that boasts 350 horsepower and a whopping 610 lb-ft of torque (don’t let the 350 ponies fool you; when it comes to hauling, rather than hauling ass, the key figure is torque).

Check it out here.

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Chevy and football go together like…Chevy and baseball. After all, former Raiders superstar defensive lineman Howie Long is the Chevy truck spokesman, and if there’s a second place for most thankless job in the NFL, it’s D-line (we’re not counting punters and kickers as NFL players). The Chevy Avalanche is clearly the class of the Chevy pickup lineup. The name alone — Avalanche — inspires fear and awe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have inspired sales; if you want a Chevy Avalanche, get one quick, as the marque will be discontinued after the 2013 model year. But that probably means there are good deals to be had. The Avalanche 4WD LTZ model – the highest end – starts around $50K and comes with heated seats, an eight-speaker Bose surround sound system and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. Did we mention towing? No, we didn’t. You’re not going to be hauling anything except big bags of signing bonus cash to the bank.

Check it out here.

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The Ford F-150 is to pickups what USC is to tailbacks — it’s Pickup U. No surprise the F-150 notched the 2012 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award. The F-150 has some stellar models to tempt the most discerning 300-pound man who can run a sub-five 40 and bench 225. Perhaps hoping some of Peyton Manning’s truck-driving karma will rub off, 2010 top pick Sam Bradford bought an F-150 when the NFL came calling. At the top of the F-150 pile sits the Harley-Davidson signature model, the latest in a long line of Harley-Ford pairings. The Harley-Davidson F-150 boasts HD badging, a plush leather interior, a 6.2-liter V8 cranking 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, which adds up to 9,300 pounds of towing capacity. It’ll set you back about $50 grand—what is that, about a quarter of a game check? If your contract prohibits motorcycle riding, just use it to tow a jet ski until you retire. It works for Kenny Effin’ Powers.

Check it out here.

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Now the Toyota Tundra CrewMax might be a good fit if a gimpy knee or short arms dropped a lineman a few rounds in the draft; it’s a little less pricey out of the box, but if you get a little crazy with the options it’ll be perfectly respectable should an unheralded player blossom into a surprise perennial All-Pro. Adding to its cachet, Denver Broncos future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning — the most lunch box elite quarterback in the league — drives a Toyota Tundra. If you have a little extra cash to spare, add the optional 5.7-liter V8 with six-speed auto, a Platinum package that adds all the 2012 technology, as well as running boards, a moonroof and to top it off, TRD 17-inch forged off-road alloy wheels. Altogether, you’ll drop a cool $52K and then some, so don’t get cut during training camp.

Check it out here.

So next time you see a pickup truck on the road, give a mental cheer to your favorite NFL team’s offensive line. If your club makes next year’s Super Bowl, chances are the men in the trenches will be a big reason why. Though with GM pulling its long-standing ads for next year, don’t expect to see the Super Bowl MVP drive off in a GM pickup.

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