A bizarre lawsuit has emerged alleging that the New York Giants and Eli Manning have knowingly been selling fake 'game-worn' memorabilia for a premium.
A helmet on display in the hallowed Canton, Ohio, gridiron museum — supposedly worn by Manning in Big Blue’s 2008 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots — is just one of dozens of fake items the football superstar and his Giants cohorts have created to fool fans and make money from collectors over the years, the lawsuit alleges. Other “forgeries” passed off on collectors include several Manning jerseys, two 2012 Super Bowl helmets and a 2004 “rookie season” helmet, according to court papers. Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning took part in the scheme so he could hang on to his personal items, according to the documents.
One of the claims against Manning in the lawsuit detailed a 2005 incident in which he allegedly asked Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba for an old, beat-up game helmet, which he signed and then put up for sale, claiming it was used during his rookie season in 2004.
The lawsuit was filed by Eric Inselberg, a sports memorabilia collector.
The Nature of the Action in the lawsuit illuminates some of the allegations:
When an FBI probe into fraudulent sports memorabilia sales began looking into the Giants' equipment managers and cleaners, individuals within the Giants organization -- driven by a Machiavellian desire to protect the organization -- coerced and intimidated witnesses into lying to the FBI. When those lies became key to securing an indictment of against a well-respected sports memorabilia collector and reseller, some of those witnesses were called to testify before a federal Grand Jury, where the lying continued under other.
These acts of obstruction and perjury achieved their purpose: The FBI never learned how several Giants employees, including the franchise quarterback, repeatedly engaged in the distribution of fraudulent Giants memorabilia. But the cost of the Giants' cover up was that the Grant Jury indicted an innocent man: the Plaintiff, Eric Inselberg. Even though that indictment was ultimately dismissed before trial -- the Assistant U.S. Attorney requested dismissal after defense lawyers filed a pretrial motion demonstrating that Giants employeess had lied to the Grand Jury -- it was too late. The damage was already done. A wrongful indictment had turned Inselberg's personal and professional life upside-down, causing severe psychological trauma and loss of millions of dollars of income and property. The Giants and their employees must be held accountable for the devastation they have wrought.
A New York Giants rep responding to the allegations said, "This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation." [New York Post]