Eli Manning and a team equipment manager are being accused of offering fraudulent game-worn sports memorabilia to collectors.
A lawsuit was first filed three years ago in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court by the plaintiffs — collectors Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown .
On April 27, 2010, Manning sent an email to Giants head equipment manager Joe Skiba asking for “2 helmets that can pass as game used,” according to court documents obtained by the New York Post.
The legal filing is part of a lawsuit alleging that Manning and team employees were working with memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports to sell helmets to fans who thought they were buying authentic game-used gear.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Brian Brook, told ESPN that the email, included among roughly 200 pages of documents Manning produced as part of legal discovery, was key to specifically linking the quarterback to the lawsuit, which alleges an elaborate scheme to produce, pass off and sell memorabilia as game-used that was not.
The defendants in the case include not only Manning and Steiner Sports but also the Giants, the team’s equipment manager and others. The suit also alleges that the Giants were complicit by deleting the email from their accounts.
Manning’s reps have denied any wrongdoing, adding that the plaintiffs are just looking to score cash.
In a statement, lawyers for the Giants said the email was taken out of context.
“The email, taken out of context, was shared with the media by an unscrupulous memorabilia dealer and his counsel who for years has been seeking to leverage a big payday,” McCarter & English, the law firm representing the Giants in the case, said in a statement. “The email predates any litigation, and there was no legal obligation to store it on the Giants server. Eli Manning is well known for his integrity and this is just the latest misguided attempt to defame his character.”
The trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 25