In case you need yet another example of why the NFL’s Super Bowl Media Day is such a ridiculous joke of an event, someone actually asked Peyton Manning, a guy who is only two seasons removed from neck surgery that would have ended most athletes’ careers and yet is still playing in Super Bowl XLVIII, what he thought about a lawsuit involving his brother, Eli Manning, and the New York Giants. The reason for the lawsuit? Sports collector Eric Inselberg claims that the Giants have been knowingly selling fake “game worn” gear to fans so players like Eli could keep the real stuff.
Specifically, Inselberg is suing for “civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade-libel,” according to the New York Post, and he goes as far as accusing the Giants of not only providing the NFL Hall of Fame with a fake helmet from Eli’s 2008 Super Bowl MVP performance against the New England Patriots, but also hiring a dry cleaner to take normal jerseys and make them look game-used.
In one startling claim, the suit says Barry Barone, who has been the Giants’ dry cleaner since 1982, used his Rutherford, NJ, Park Cleaners store to beat up jerseys and other items at the behest of longtime locker-room manager Ed Wagner Jr.
In a 2001 incident, Wagner told Barone “to intentionally damage multiple jerseys to make them appear to have been game-worn when they had not been.”
Inselberg’s lawyer, Brian Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed, said his client walked in to find Barone “using a big pair of scissors to cut up a set of Giants’ 2000 season’s game-issued white jerseys,’’ in order to then “’repair’ those damages” to make the shirts look used. (Via the New York Post)
Naturally, a spokesperson for the Giants claims that Inselberg’s lawsuit is “completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously.” However, the reason that the collector is pursuing this matter so seriously is because he feels that the team screwed him over by intentionally selling fake gear in the past, and now HE. WANTS. REVENGE. Also, he seems to have some solid evidence.
Included in the lawsuit is a 2008 e-mail exchange between Inselberg and Joe Skiba, in which Skiba appears to acknowledge he created fake game-worn gear at Manning’s request.
“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 “firstname.lastname@example.org” — writes, “BS ones, you are correct…”
Sure, this could damage Eli’s reputation as an otherwise charming goofball, but he could always hide behind the excuse that he tried to send collectors the real gear but it was intercepted. That joke never gets old.
(Banner via Getty)