The sports memorabilia business is known for its scams, fakes, and frauds, but this New York Giants one as reported by the New York Post, is one of a kind.
The report claims that Giants brass created fake “game worn football gear” in order to fool fans and memorabilia collectors.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning is named as one of the main culprits in the report, which claims Manning took part in order to keep certain memorabilia items for himself.
Eli Manning’s helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl against the Patriots is in the Hall of Fame. That helmet displayed in Canton is fake, according to the lawsuit.
A Giants representative vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said, “This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”
As this story continues to develop, here are the key players involved:
Eric Inselberg: The man who filed the lawsuit and who was indicted for memorabilia fraud in 2011. The Giants supposedly lied about its relationship with Inselberg and the lawsuit he filed is an attempt at retribution. One of his claims reads the team “Repeatedly engaged in the distribution of fraudulent Giants memorabilia.” In 2010, Giants CEO John Mara reportedly named Inselberg the “Giants Memorabilia Curator”.
Barry Barone: Giants dry cleaner since 1982 who allegedly personally damaged team player jerseys to make them look game-used.
Ed Wagner (Remember this guy??):
Yes, the guy from the Tide campaign and the Giants locker-room manager allegedly played a role here. According to the lawsuit, Wagner was the one who ordered Barone to damage the jerseys.
Joe Skiba: Giants equipment manager who was very open about the scam and sent direct emails to Inselberg about it. From the report, here’s a back and forth email conversation between Skiba and Inselberg from 2008.
Inselberg to Skiba: “Hey Joe, my buddy was offered an eli game used helmet and jersey. Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didnt want to give up the real stuff?”
Re Skiba: “BS ones, you are correct…”
The Giants even fooled the most reputable sports memorabilia company in the country, Steiner Sports into selling the fake items.
No matter how this turns out or what really happened, this sends a humungous dark cloud over the sports memorabilia industry as well as the ethical standards of one of the most respected organizations in sports.