Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.

Back in 2004, when Eli Manning was in his first year playing for the Giants and I was in my last year covering them, the rookie quarterback told me how careful he planned to be about the marketing end of his new job.

"Right now, we're keeping it very low-key," he said that September, before he had started an NFL game. "I told them from the get-go, even before the season, let's keep things to a minimum."

So print ads for the "Got Milk?" campaign (with brother Peyton and father Archie) and Reebok (with Jets quarterback Chad Pennington) were in, but most television ads were out.

One decade and two Super Bowl MVP awards later, Eli is a full-fledged member of the Manning family endorsement complex. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's America!

But Manning said even now he picks his partnerships carefully, including the one for which he has spent part of this week making pre-Father's Day rounds with Archie: Gillette Shave Club, in which people can sign up for plans to have razors delivered.

"I think obviously I handled my football career first, but I've tried to align myself with great companies that are high quality and a great brand," Eli said. "I think obviously Gillette is one of those and it's been around sports a long time.

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"If you get into talking about something or endorsing something, you want it to be something you actually use and makes sense for you."

Said Archie, "As his father, and really speaking of Peyton, too, I felt real strong about not getting involved with a whole bunch of things before you go out and prove yourself, before you go out in this league, a tough league, and become a starter and then kind of establish yourself a little bit."

The elder Manning said he is pleased with how both of his NFL sons have handled that part of their careers, but he gave Eli extra points for degree of difficulty.

"Playing in New York is a little bit different than playing in Indianapolis," he said. "It is a little different from playing anywhere. So both of them, I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about the people that advise them in marketing, I think they've made good decisions there. I'm proud of that."

Archie, 66, is old enough to remember the days when Gillette was a pioneer in sports marketing and sponsorship, in particular the Friday night boxing cards he recalls his father watching.


"Our family goes back three generations with them, so I just feel great about Eli doing some things with Gillette and me kind of tagging on," he said.

Archie watched the Giants practice Thursday before beginning his round of interviews with Eli and said it was the first time in Eli's 12 seasons as a Giant that he has watched one.

"I'm not a go-to-practice guy," he said. "But I was invited out, and I saw some good things. They have some good people. Of course we saw it at the end of last year, when everybody got more and more comfortable with that offense. So there are certainly some good weapons there.

"You have to get them on the field and make it happen and it's a tough league and tough division. I hope it goes well."

Archie said health likely would be a determining factor.

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"The Giants really haven't had a lot of good fortune in the last couple of years when it comes to that," he said. "I think I saw last year the Giants were the most-injured team in the league or had the most people on injured reserve.

"You hope to avoid that and hopefully sometimes good fortune works out where it happens to you one year and the next year you can stay healthy. I think that's a key. I know they've worked hard to try to rebuild this football team."

Eli said Archie is a challenge for selecting a Father's Day gift, and he naturally pointed to razors as a good option.

"My dad, I think he has everything," Eli Manning said. "So it's always a tough idea to find out what to give for Father's Day and getting him razors, they never run out and it's something he'll definitely use."