That Archie Manning doesn't want his son to play for the San Diego Chargers and that the New York Giants, with a No. 4 position to offer, are reportedly looking for a quarterback, could work out quite well for Eli Manning.
Sure, New York means intense media scrutiny and pressure to perform, but the amount of fan support and higher concentration of corporate headquarters could serve to one day boost his off-the-field income. While his endorsement income will dwarf the eight-figure signing bonus he'll get regardless of the team that picks him on Saturday, leading sports marketing experts agree that should the quarterback live up to the name on the back of his jersey, the exposure that he would receive in New York would be worth much more than if he plays in San Diego.
Exactly how much more money Manning, who already has an equipment deal with Reebok, could make in New York remains unclear.
Certainly, there is no shortage of marketable athletes in the New York market. The Yankees have three of the Major League Baseball's biggest stars in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, and the Giants' roster includes some of the NFL's most recognizable players.
Michael Strahan, the Giants' effervescent defensive end, has been featured on national commercials for Campbell's Soup, Snickers, Pizza Hut and Right Guard deodorant. Running back Tiki Barber's cheshire smile earned him commercials for Reebok and Visa. And if fans aren't wearing tight end Jeremy Shockey's Giants jersey, among the the league's best selling, they might be wearing his signature shoe made by Steve Madden and or a limited edition Casio watch. Even the team's backup quarterback, "The Bachelor" star Jesse Palmer, is even more marketable than it's current starter, Kerry Collins.
"This Giants team has more star power off the field than any NFL team from 1980 on up," said Mark Lepselter of Maxximum Marketing, which represents Barber, who even has a children's book hitting shelves soon. "In New York, your marketability is sometimes twice as great as it would be somewhere else, and with some of the smaller cities, it's as much as five times as great."
"If there's any city where there is plenty of room to be marketable, it's New York," said Maury Gostfrand, who represents Strahan. "No matter how many guys on the team have what people are looking for, the opportunities will always be there if each of them stands out."
With the success of his father Archie, who passed for 23,911 yards during his 14-year career with the New Orleans Saints, and brother Peyton, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback who was named the league's co-MVP last season, Eli's bloodlines are, practically, marketable alone.
"The autograph and memorabilia opportunity with the two brothers is tremendous," said Lepselter, who also represents Tiki's brother Ronde. The two have done commercials together.
Peyton is among a handful of NFL players, which also includes Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who earned more than $1 million in endorsements last year. Manning has recently been featured in advertising for Gatorade, DirectTV and Xbox.
But sports marketers say that in order for companies to write scripts that include the Manning brothers in their advertising spots, Eli Manning must first prove himself on the field.
"The Manning name is very valuable, but Eli's going to need to win," Lalin said. "You could have the most charismatic guy come to New York and if the team doesn't win, he won't get big deals. If Eli comes here and brings a Super Bowl, the sky is the limit for his marketability."
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org