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Lawsuit claims Eli Manning, Giants sold fake 'game-worn' jerseys and helmets

A Giants helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl that is now at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the items in question. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images) A Giants helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl that is now at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the items in question. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

A sports collector filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and other members of the franchise -- including CEO John Mara -- alleging they participated in selling fake "game-worn" Super Bowl jerseys and other team memorabilia in order to keep the originals for themselves, according to a report Thursday from Kaja Whitehouse of the New York Post.

The list of those allegedly duped by the Giants includes the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which the report says has a helmet on display that Manning supposedly wore during the Giants' 2008 Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. Among the other items the Giants allegedly pawned off as real are several jerseys worn by Manning, two helmets worn during the 2012 Super Bowl and a 2004 rookie season helmet.

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The Giants issued a statement on Thursday denying the allegations:

“This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”

The lawsuit, brought by sports collector Eric Inselberg in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court, also claims Inselberg "once and personally witnessed [longtime Giants dry cleaner Barry Barone] purposely damaging the jerseys that he would then repair to create the illusion that they had been worn during a game."

As the report points out, Inselberg was indicted in 2011 for memorabilia fraud, but the charges were dropped in May 2013. Inselberg, who said the Giants were the largest supplier of items for his sports memorabilia business, is seeking damages "well into the eight figures," according to the report.

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