Memorabilia dealer vouches for Eli Manning, sort of

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If Giants quarterback Eli Manning generated phony game-used gear, one of the victims would have been Steiner Sports, the memorabilia company with which he had a business relationship. The CEO of Steiner Sports has vouched for Eli, sort of.

“When Eli Manning walks into your office and he says, ‘These are my game-used items,’ then I’d like to think that I can believe that,” Brandon Steiner said in a Monday Facebook Live session, via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com.

According to Rovell, Steiner said he hopes the game-used items are actually game used, but that he isn’t sure at the present time.

Steiner nevertheless insisted that he’s giving Manning the benefit of the doubt. But that term by its own definition includes the existence of doubt.

“First of all, we haven’t gotten all the facts and we don’t know if Eli has done anything wrong,” Steiner said. “Secondly, I think we are all better than our worst mistake. We’ve had a 14-year relationship with a guy that’s amazing to us, he has been a great partner, he has been a friend and he has been amazing to our customers in every sense of the word. I’m not a runner — you’ve seen me with Ray Rice, you’ve seen me with a lot of other players guys that have been with us. We’re going to doing everything we can to support those players when the waters get a little rocky.”

While Steiner is standing behind Manning, Steiner isn’t standing behind the authenticity of game-used items from Manning. Steiner said he’s willing to issue refunds.

“This is troublesome to me,” Steiner said. “Yes, I lose sleep because I see this there’s an accusation out there that something we thought was 100 percent real was in question.”

So, yes, Steiner supports Eli. But Steiner’s equivocal comments coupled with a willingness to pay money back to those who bought the items in question shows that the support is conditional, at best.