Sports memorabilia dealer Eric Inselberg claims in court documents filed in New Jersey that Manning and the Giants football organization suffered a “complete breakdown of integrity.”
Inselberg said he ended up being charged with federal mail fraud for reselling the forged memorabilia. The government later dismissed the charges, he said, for lack of evidence.
Inselberg, who describes himself as a “life-long Giants fan” was “one of the foremost sports memorabilia collectors and resellers in the nation” at the time of his arrest in 2011.
His Giants gear came mostly from “people in the Giants’ organization,” including equipment manager Ed Wagner and assistant equipment managers Joe Skiba and Ed Skiba, according to Courthouse News Service.
In addition to Manning, named as defendants are Giants owner John Mara, two other executives, Wagner, the Skibas and Barry Barone, owner of the Giants’ official team cleaners.
The feds got wind of Inselberg in 2008, after other memorabilia dealers complained that they bought gear from him that he allegedly misrepresented as “game-worn.” The designation adds considerable value to sports items.
But Inselberg charges that Manning and the other defendants duped him about the equipment in an apparent scheme to jack up prices.
New or non-game-worn sports gear was often intentionally damaged to make it appear game-worn, court papers state.
He also claims that Manning, “on several occasions” personally directed equipment managers to make new helmets appear to have been game-worn by scuffing and damaging them.
Inselberg claims he obtained the only Super Bowl XLII helmet Manning wore from Ed Skiba in 2008. But Joe Skiba later marked up a different helmet and claimed it was Manning’s game helmet. That helmet is now resting in the Football Hall of Fame, the suit alleges.
The dealer also said Manning and the equipment managers pulled the same trick with a helmet Manning claimed to have worn during his 2004 rookie season with the Giants.
Inselberg claims he became the “fall guy” for the Giants organization when federal investigators began looking into complaints about the equipment.
The Giants organization and Manning have both issued statements calling the 65-page lawsuit completely without merit.
For more details on the case, check out Courthouse News Service and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest celebrity updates.