Court documents obtained by the New York Post claim that Giants quarterback Eli Manning was a participant in an alleged scheme to sell team gear that was purportedly falsely labeled as “game-worn.”
According to the Post, Manning sent an email to the Giants’ equipment manager asking for ” two helmets that can pass as game used.” He turned over the potentially incriminating emails this week to the Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court, where a civil racketeering lawsuit has been filed against Manning, the Giants and other team employees.
Manning’s email was allegedly sent after his marketing agent Alan Zucker sent Manning a note asking for “2 game used helmets and 2 game used jerseys” as per the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s contract with memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports. The suit also alleges that the Giants were complicit by deleting the email from its accounts, and that the equipment manager, Joe Skiba, was aware that the quarterback wanted to provide fake items because he did not want to part with his authentic equipment.
Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba sent Manning a note asking if he could help him with the request, per the story, and court documents show that Manning responded: “2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli”
Another email from Skiba at a different time claimed that Manning wanted to send fake memorabilia because he “didnt (sic) want to give up the real stuff.”
Karen Kessler, spokeswoman for Giants counsel McCarter English, issued a statement saying, “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. 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 Giants and Manning were sued by sports collector Eric Inselberg in 2014 for the same allegations. The suit claimed that a dry cleaner and Giants equipment managers were cutting and beating up jerseys and helmets so that they could be passed off as game worn. One of those, a helmet that Manning was supposed to have worn in the 2008 Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots, is at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, according to the suit.
That the case was dismissed on Nov. 2014. An appeals court upheld that ruling in Oct. 2016.