Elisha is the two time Super Bowl MVP New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Eli Manning

Collecting equipment used, or uniforms worn, during an NFL game is big business. Young and old alike want these items to feel close to their favorite team or player.

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In a 99 page Amended Complaint, plaintiffs (including,  sports memorabilia collectors/marketers and resellers) sued the New York Giants and employees, alleging that Eli and the team provided fake memorabilia to a dealer. They allege that fake helmets, jerseys and other sports memorabilia were given to dealers.

The lawsuit arose after a criminal investigation into the sports memorabilia business that resulted in Plaintiffs’ being indicted. Ultimately, the indictments were dismissed. Plaintiffs allege that the New York Giants lied during the criminal investigation and were involved in a cover up. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged the Giants’ General Counsel concealed and encouraged misconduct. This resulted in Plaintiff Inselberg being indicted.

Specifically, the Amended Complaint has 18 counts including: civil RICO, malicious prosecution, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, trade libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, consumer fraud, common law fraud, quasi contract unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, unfair competition – misappropriation and reverse palming off; breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relations, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting, negligent supervision, negligent retention, negligent misrepresentation, and respondeat superior.

Last week, Plaintiffs attorney told a New Jersey court that a 2010 e-mail exchange between Eli Manning and the team’s equipment director Joe Skiba proves that Eli Manning knowingly provided fake helmets to a sports retailer. Specifically, Plaintiffs’ attorney claims that Eli Manning told Mr.  Skiba that he was looking for “2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it.” They assert that Eli Manning was under contract to provide game-worn memorabilia to retailer Steiner Sports, LLC. Further, Plaintiffs’ attorney asserted that the Giants or their employees “appear to have deleted” Manning’s e-mail.

The New York Giants’ attorney stated that “the e-mail, taken out of context, was shared with the media by an unscrupulous memorabilia dealer and his counsel who for years has been seeking leverage to a big payday. The e-mail predates any litigation, and there was no legal obligation to store it on the Giant’s server.”

Were the helmets and jerseys fake? Was there a cover up and conspiracy by the New York Giants? Or, are the Plaintiffs merely seeking a big payday and/or to divert attention from the dismissed indictment?

We will have to wait to see how this “plays” out in the courts.