A sports memorabilia collector is suing Eli Manning and the New York Giants for allegedly passing off jerseys and helmets as being authentic game-worn gear, when they were not.
The team is facing a multi-part suit for civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade libel, the New York Post reports.
Sports collector Eric Inselberg claims to know that multiple pieces of gear advertised as game-worn, including a helmet now sitting in the NFL Hall of Fame, never saw field time. The team worked with a dry cleaner in northern New Jersey to intentionally beat up gear to make it look like it had been worn.
Manning has been passing off the fake gear in order to keep the actual memorabilia for himself, the Post reports. He even requested a beat-up helmet from the jersey chop shop, which he signed and then sold as being a helmet he wore during his rookie year in 2004.
The lawsuit cites an email exchange between the plaintiff and the Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba, in which Skiba acknowledges that there is fake gear floating around.
If this lawsuit proves the Giants have been passing off forgeries of legitimate gear, there could be thousands of lawsuits spinning off of it.
“This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously,” a Giants spokesperson told the Post. “We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”