A lawsuit filed in Bergen County Court yesterday alleges that Eli Manning and members of the Giants equipment staff fraudulently manufactured game-worn jerseys, helmets and other items so Eli could keep the pieces for himself, rather than give them to their memorabilia partners.
Among the notable forgeries listed in the suit, the helmet Eli Manning wore in Super Bowl XLII which now is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a several jerseys, and numerous helmets, including his 2004 rookie helmet. According to the suit, Eli would hold back personal items he wanted to keep for himself and the equipment managers working with the team’s dry cleaners, would distress items to look like they had seen time on the field.
In one notable exchange between sports collector Eric Inselberg who filed the suit, and equipment manager Joe Skiba, Skiba seems to acknowledge the fake gear at Eli’s request. From the New York Post’s report:
“Hey Joe, my buddy was offered an eli game used helmet and jersey. Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didnt want to give up the real stuff?” Inselberg writes in the exchange.
Skiba — replying from account “email@example.com” — writes, “BS ones, you are correct…”
Some of Manning’s alleged fakes were sold through famed memorabilia house Steiner Sports, with whom he had an exclusive deal.
Inselberg himself was the target of a federal investigation for selling forged game used memorabilia after buyers noted the markings did not match photos of the games back in 2011. Investigators dropped the charges in May of last year when, “prosecution was no longer appropriate in light of some new facts that were pointed out to us by defense counsel.” Inselberg’s defense stated that Giants staffers had lied to the grand jury in his indictment.
Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch said on WFAN this afternoon the team would fight the allegations.
“The organization will defend itself,” Tisch said on the “Boomer & Carton” show. “They just feel that there’s no merit and the Giants will always defend themselves.”
“The allegations against Eli are allegations,” Tisch said. “We know that he is a first-class guy and comes from a fantastic family. And they are only allegations.”
Archie Manning, in town for his other son’s Super Bowl appearance, also spoke with The Fan.
“We’ve tried to ask our kids to always do what’s right,” Eli’s father Archie Manning said Thursday on the “Boomer & Carton” show. “I think Eli’s tried to do what’s right. … The Giants have always been in my opinion a classy organization. So we’ll get through this.
No word from the elder Manning if Eli was grounded for the weekend until his parents could sort out this mess, but Manning go on to say Eli’s curfew had been moved up to 8 pm on weeknights.