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UPDATE: Eli Manning And His Father Weigh In On Jerseygate
A helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl, two from the 2012 Super Bowl, numerous jerseys, a complicit laundromat, Eli Manning, some elbow grease, and a New York Giants equipment manager. That’s what it takes to defraud sports gear dealers like Steiner Sports — a memorabilia company Manning is currently under contract with. Now he (and others inside and outside of the organization) are being sued for the rather serious-sounding misdeeds of “civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade-libel.”
Others have been duped by the faux-game-worn stuff as well, namely, a collector named Eric Inselberg and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yes, this is kinda a big deal if it’s true, and no, Peyton has refused to comment on it.
[NY Post] …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.”
— Joseph Skiba (@JosephSkiba) December 23, 2012
Inselberg’s lawyer, Brian Brook, tells us that a criminal case was brought against his client in 2013, and subsequently dropped after the U.S. Attorney learned that witnesses lied on behalf of the Giants. Now it appears that there’s more hard evidence incriminating Eli and team equipment managers of doctoring non-game-worn apparel and selling it (under the pretense that it had, in fact, been worn in specific games).
[NY Post] [Eli] allegedly asked Joe Skiba for an old, beat-up game helmet — and then took the headgear, signed it, and put it on the market, “falsely claiming that it was a helmet used during his 2004 rookie season.”
…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.
If indeed there is a paper trail linking Eli and the rest to the fraudulent sale of sports memorabilia, everyone involved could face serious compensatory penalties. If it turns out that the Giants lied to the FBI about the authenticity and amount of memorabilia they’ve sold to people like Inselberg over the years — which they are also being accused of — this could get ugly very fast for one of the most respected franchises in American sports.
Eli has commented through a statement released by the organization, while his father, Archie, weighed in on the matter rather frankly.
[Newsday] “The Giants told me [Eli] this suit is completely without merit and I have no reason to believe otherwise. The Giants are going to fight it and so will I”…
Their father, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, said the news of the lawsuit came as “a bombshell” to Eli.
Earlier, appearing on Fox’s “Good Day NY,” Archie said: “Memorabilia has always been a little bit out of control, a lot of fraud there. . . . I just know about the Giants organization, what they’ve been like for a long, long time, and we tried to teach our children to do the right thing, so we’ll see what this is about, but I don’t think Eli or any of the Giants has purposely did anything wrong.”
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