This is hilarious:
Quarterback Eli Manning and New York Giants brass created bogus “game-worn” football gear to pass off as the real deal — and one of the forgeries is sitting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an explosive new lawsuit claims.
A helmet on display in the hallowed Canton, Ohio, gridiron museum — supposedly worn by Manning in Big Blue’s 2008 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots — is just one of dozens of fake items the football superstar and his Giants cohorts have created to fool fans and make money from collectors over the years, the lawsuit alleges.
Other “forgeries” passed off on collectors include several Manning jerseys, two 2012 Super Bowl helmets and a 2004 “rookie season” helmet, according to court papers.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning took part in the scheme so he could hang on to his personal items, according to the documents.
The memorabilia ruse is so common among Giants players and staffers, the documents claim, that team equipment manager Joe Skiba openly discussed Manning’s fake game gear on an official Giants e-mail account.
The lawsuit emerged as Manning’s big brother, Peyton, prepares to lead the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, the Giants’ home field.
A rep for the Giants on Thursday said, “This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”
In my youth I knew a roadie for the Rolling Stones. He was a crazy English dude and he would sell anything not nailed down that was related to the band. The economics of that life required it. The tour covered travel and lodging, but pay was minimal. The roadies made their money scalping tickets, selling band stuff and trading on their connection to the band. It was very much the carny lifestyle. I’m guessing the people working for pro sports teams have a similar life. They sell anything they can that belongs to the players.
The allegations are part of a civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade-libel suit filed Wednesday in Bergen County Superior Court by sports collector Eric Inselberg.
In one startling claim, 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.”
Inselberg’s lawyer, Brian Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed, said his client walked in to find Barone “using a big pair of scissors to cut up a set of Giants’ 2000 season’s game-issued white jerseys,’’ in order to then “’repair’ those damages” to make the shirts look used.
Then you have the very honest men in the memorabilia business:
Inselberg was indicted in 2011 for memorabilia fraud for selling bogus used sport jerseys from teams.
But federal prosecutors in Rockford, Ill., dropped all the charges in May 2013, telling the judge that “prosecution was no longer appropriate in light of some new facts that were pointed out to us by defense counsel.”
The case was jettisoned two days after Inselberg’s defense lawyers told the court that Giants staffers had lied to the grand jury that indicted him about their relationship with him, in a bid to cover up for the team’s own fake-memorabilia sales.
Wednesday’s lawsuit is Inselberg’s attempt at retribution against the Giants.
The new suit alleges that Wagner, along with Skiba and his brother, Ed, also an equipment manager, were told by team brass to lie to federal investigators and the grand jury about how much Giants sports gear they sold him over the years.