Giants quarterback Daniel Jones joined former Giant and mentor Eli...

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones joined former Giant and mentor Eli Manning this July as part of Manning's annual summer tradition, working out at Westhampton High School. Credit: Bryan Schaumloffel

With the first chunks of the $160 million contract he signed in March sitting in his bank accounts and with some time to relax in the weeks before he was due to show up at training camp earlier this month, Daniel Jones could have gone anywhere in the world.

Europe. Asia. Hawaii. The Caribbean.

Anywhere he wanted.

He wound up on Long Island.

Lured by an invitation from former Giants quarterback Eli Manning to spend a few early July nights at the Hamptons beach house Manning bought a few years ago in East Quogue, Jones found himself swinging golf clubs, sunning in the sand, breathing in the salty air and, yes, chilling at some of the restaurants and nightclubs in the area.

For a few days, anyway, before the grind of this season began, Danny Dimes was Danny Dunes.

“It was a good time,” Jones told Newsday about the mini vacay, which, he added, was the first time he and Manning had spent that kind of close-quartered time together away from football.

They were teammates in 2019 when Jones was a first-round pick of the Giants and Manning was playing the last year of his two-time Super Bowl-winning career, and they have stayed in touch since. Last season, when Jones made the playoffs for the first time as an NFL player, he leaned on Manning for advice throughout the journey.

This summer, before he began his fifth season as a pro, he again found himself under Manning’s wing.

And in his guest room.

Jones jumped at the invite once it was extended, not just for the chance to soak up all that Long Island has to offer — isn’t that enough of a lure? — but for an opportunity to spend quality time with his mentor.

“We were playing a little bit of golf and just hanging out,” Jones said. “He’s always been extremely helpful for me adding that perspective, telling stories about when he may have been in similar situations and how he would communicate with guys, his leadership style and what he found to be effective.”

They even shared in what has become a summertime tradition for Manning.

Beginning in 2011, when the NFL spent the summer in a contractual lockout, Manning started making annual arrangements to keep sharp with workouts on the football field at Westhampton High School.

A few of the school’s players would be asked to run routes and catch passes from him in a mutually beneficial setup. Manning would get to fine-tune his throwing mechanics before he reported to camp. The kids would get the memory of a lifetime.

This summer, Manning was there again. And this time he brought a friend.

“Eli has been great to our program,” Westhampton coach Bryan Schaumloffel wrote on a social media post that included videos and photos of his players with the two Giants. “He is a class act and we have been very privileged to work with him. It was great to work with Daniel Jones today. Thank you to both of them.”

“It was great,” Jones said of his experience. “It was a Sunday morning and I was just trying to get a workout in. I appreciated them coming out and working out, also. Tried to help them out. Eli was coaching them up a little bit.”

Off the field, Jones and Manning created little more than a ripple in the celebrity-infested waters of the area. There was buzz among the barbacks and busboys wherever they showed up, sure, but most of the time they moved unencumbered in that little universe on the East End.

It wasn’t long after Jones left Chez Manning in the Hamptons that he checked in to camp in East Rutherford. Since then, he’s been throwing passes to Darren Waller and Saquon Barkley rather than high-schoolers. And there isn’t much time for golf or folksy chats with his predecessor turned cheerleader.

Those breezy beach vibes he was able to enjoy have given way to the rigors of an upcoming season in which much is expected of him.

Jones’ success last year earned him his big contract and the unofficial title of franchise quarterback for the Giants, but now he has to continue to improve to justify all of that. Expectations are high for him.

“His job is to make good decisions and lead the team down to score points, regardless of a new contract or anything like that,” coach Brian Daboll said. “That’s his job. So he has to focus on continual improvement, just like everybody else does. That’s what training camp is for, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

How this season will play out is impossible to say. Jones and the Giants may regress and disappoint. He may continue to improve and lead the team deeper into the postseason than last year’s run.

Wherever it ends, we already know where it began.

Right here on Long Island.


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