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Turning Eli Manning's footballs into 'precious jewels'

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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning likes his footballs broken in before he handles them. The process — performed for the Giants by brothers Ed and Joe Skiba, and detailed by The New York Times — sounds like the post-game practices of a particularly masochistic professional athlete. Balls are rubbed "vigorously" for 45 minutes, scoured with a wet towel until thoroughly sodden, brushed, and then spun on a wheel to prepare them for another "high-speed scrubbing." Only after it's been broken down and rebuilt is a ball ready for Manning's throwing hand. Of those chosen few that make the cut, Joe Skiba says "no one is allowed to touch those balls. They're precious jewels. Too much work has gone into them." The New York Times says Manning's not peculiar in demanding this ball-breaking service: a new ball, apparently, "is as popular as a late hit" among quarterbacks in the NFL.