Posted January 30, 2014

Lawsuit claims Eli Manning, Giants sold fake ‘game-worn’ jerseys and helmets

NFL
A Giants helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl that is now at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the items in question. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

A Giants helmet from the 2008 Super Bowl that is now at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is one of the items in question. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

A sports collector filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and other members of the franchise — including CEO John Mara – alleging they participated in selling fake “game-worn” Super Bowl jerseys and other team memorabilia in order to keep the originals for themselves, according to a report Thursday from Kaja Whitehouse of the New York Post.

The list of those allegedly duped by the Giants includes the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which the report says has a helmet on display that Manning supposedly wore during the Giants’ 2008 Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. Among the other items the Giants allegedly pawned off as real are several jerseys worn by Manning, two helmets worn during the 2012 Super Bowl and a 2004 rookie season helmet.

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The Giants issued a statement on Thursday denying the allegations:

“This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”

The lawsuit, brought by sports collector Eric Inselberg in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court, also claims Inselberg “once and personally witnessed [longtime Giants dry cleaner Barry Barone] purposely damaging the jerseys that he would then repair to create the illusion that they had been worn during a game.”

As the report points out, Inselberg was indicted in 2011 for memorabilia fraud, but the charges were dropped in May 2013. Inselberg, who said the Giants were the largest supplier of items for his sports memorabilia business, is seeking damages “well into the eight figures,” according to the report.

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22 comments
Dewey
Dewey

If you didn't get it signed in front of you. If the player didn't take the "game used item" off their back and hand it straight to you. Unless you have that kind of 100% certainty , then as anyone who has been in the industry long enough will tell you .....Buyer Beware. Do your homework. And that's not just sports figures. Actors , political figures , infamous you name it. By most estimates up to 75-80% is fake. Take into account clubhouse signer's that number could easily be as much as 85-90% in my opinion. It will never change though. As long as public figures can get 100's to 1,000's of requests just via mail a day , no one wants to spend 23.5 hours a day signing obviously. And as long as fool's run so quickly to separate themselves from their money , this will continue.

BarrySoetoro
BarrySoetoro

"Inselberg" says it all--Bolshevik money grubbing.

S12
S12

Ah, the stories I could tell.  Years of working in and around pro locker rooms - typically there is someone, usually a clubby (clubhouse attendant) or similar guy, who is really good at simulating the pros autograph and they do ALL the signing of the "game" merchandise.  They get nice tips from the athlete and the pro doesn't waste their time signing unlimited memorabilia requests.

Mr Roberts
Mr Roberts

Considering the 2013 season, nothing they wore could be considered as having been worn in a game.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

Sports memorabilia is a poor investment. Do you think anyone will care who Peyton Manning was in 100 years?

Jon8
Jon8

This is huge! If this lawsuit prevails, everybody who ever bought Giants merchandise will sue.

And serious criminal charges could be brought.

JMP878
JMP878

COA's unfortunately can also be forged.  Unless you have a picture of said athlete actually signing something -- don't buy.  You are better off putting your money in a shoebox and burying it in the back yard.

Bazelope
Bazelope

If these collectors really believe HALF of this game-worn equipment was actually worn in a game then they are morons.  Which they likely are anyway!

Cool
Cool

How many Jerseys and different helmets did Eli wear during the Super Bowl?  Can they really have one in the hall of fame and one out there for sale or trade?

Doug1
Doug1

I once bought a hockey puck at a charity event that came with a COA (certificate of authenticity), which happened to come from the same folks who donated the puck.  Except that the player's name on the COA was misspelled.  So I contacted them and they mailed me out a new COA with the correct spelling.  Like I really believe that it's a legit autograph anymore.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Inselberg, for some reason, reminds of that guy who swears that, not only did he shoot and kill Bigfoot, but that he has DNA evidence to prove it.

donald5
donald5

The value people put on sports memorabilia is just a strange concept to me.  I suppose it is good for museums but private buyers paying huge amounts of money to put in in some foyer or office just doesn't register in my mind. 

Aaron14
Aaron14

The sports memorabilia business may be the most shady and unregulated major business in America, but I suppose the political and judicial system could give them a run for "their money".  It has been estimated that over 60% of sports memorabilia is forged, but I suppose who can say really. It is just obviously really, really, really bad and you should watch what you spend your money on.

RobertHinton
RobertHinton

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius  Ever hear of Honus Wagner fool? If not that's why you're probably not aware of the money to be made off sports memorabilia. 

EdJuraszek
EdJuraszek

Said the guy who gave away all his Yankees/Babe Ruth memorabilia back in the 1930's

Mel
Mel

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius Not defending Manning either way here, but people said the same thing about guys like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig 90-100 years ago. Just sayin'....

Aaron14
Aaron14

@Doug1 I've got one that even TOPPS that (pun intended).  Topps ran a contest open to the general public and a family member "won" the grand "prize".  It was a baseball bat signed by 10 Major Leaguers but it has a non-removable MLB COA (certificate of authenticity) attached to it that said the item was a BASEBALL signed by one player.  They never disclosed the damage for the contest so it was clearly fraud but that is the way Topps and many of the major players do business in this corrupt fashion  without regulation.  One of the other items turned out to be counterfeit!

justsomeguy
justsomeguy

@Aaron14Right, which is what makes this so sad if there's any truth to it.  The lawsuit's claim is that the fake memorabilia came straight from the giants, who certified it was authentic.

Aaron14
Aaron14

@justsomeguy @Aaron14 The Topps Corporation recently sent me an item that turned out to be counterfeit.  The Topps Co!

drmuon
drmuon

@justsomeguy @Aaron14 It's also sad that people pay crazy amounts of money for Sports gear that was worn in a game.  There has to be more lucrative things to collect.