New York Giants star quarterback Eli Manning is facing an upcoming trial where he is accused of being at the center of a fake, game-worn memorabilia racket.
While the trial is scheduled to commence on September 25, ESPN reports things potentially took a turn for the worse for Manning earlier this month after an email was made public where the veteran signal-caller asked Giants head equipment manager Joe Skiba for “two helmets that can pass as game used.”
The Giants and a team equipment manager are also named as defendants in the suit.
The email was included in a Bergen County (New Jersey) Superior Court filing made by plaintiffs Michael Jakab, Eric Inselberg, and Sean Godown. The trio first filed suit three years ago.
The email exchanged between Manning and Skiba was allegedly sent by Manning back on April 27, 2010. The communication was initiated after Manning was instructed by longtime marketing agent Alan Zucker to come up with some equipment to satisfy his obligation to sports memorabilia company Steiner Sports.
According to ESPN, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Brian Brook, contends though the scheme was an elaborate one, the email directly tied Manning to the plan to pass off and sell the equipment as authentically game used. Brook added that the email was found in around 200 pages of legal discovery ultimately released by Manning’s legal team.
The suit goes on to allege that Manning was not only aware of the scheme but was part of its creation. Meanwhile, the Giants have been deemed as complicit, because at some point, team officials allegedly deleted the correspondence from their accounts.
“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.”
At some point, Inselberg was one of several memorabilia dealers to be indicted for selling fake game-used equipment, and Brook now contends that was at least partly based on the Giants cooperating with authorities.
All charges against him were ultimately dropped when the Justice Department admitted it lacked evidence. Inselberg later filed suit against the team insisting that his reputation had been adversely affected. Brook added team officials have since subpoenaed at least 70 connections of his client and still have not been able to find any evidence connecting him to any memorabilia fraud.
Inselberg has previously loaned many pieces of his collection to a memorabilia collection inside MetLife Stadium, at least some of it purchased from Giants’ equipment managers, including a Michael Strahan Super Bowl game-used jersey that was authenticated and photo matched, despite the fact that the Giants presented another jersey to Strahan and told him that that was his jersey from the game.
In the suit, Inselberg’s attorneys also contend other items that have been in question include equipment described as game-used from Manning, Osi Umenyiora, and Tiki Barber.
According to ESPN, it’s unlikely if Manning or any of the Giants employees would ever face criminal prosecution related to the case because the federal five-year statute of limitations on all the alleged acts has passed.
The trial is scheduled to begin on September 25.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]