Emails have surfaced that reportedly link New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to an alleged scheme to sell phony game-worn NFL equipment to collectors.
The New York Post reports that it obtained court documents that show an email sent by Manning to Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba on April 27, 2010: "2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli."
A second email reportedly sent by Manning to his marketing agent Alan Zucker said: "Should be able to get them for tomorrow."
Manning has a contract with Steiner Sports, a memorabilia dealer, to sell football equipment that was used in NFL games to collectors.
Three memorabilia collectors filed the emails in court documents on April 11 as part of their civil racketeering lawsuit against Manning, Skiba, Steiner, Giants CEO John Mara and others.
Court papers allege the emails from the two-time Super Bowl MVP prove he "was looking to give non-game-used helmets to Steiner to satisfy -- fraudulently -- his contractual obligation."
The lawsuit also alleges the Giants organization failed to produce emails between Manning's AOL account and Skiba's official NFL account even though the Giants "claim to have no document destruction policy."
The lawyer representing the memorabilia collectors, Brian Brook, said on April 12: "It appears to be the case that someone at the Giants organization deleted [the emails and a 2008 exchange]."
In the 2008 email, Skiba allegedly told one of the memorabilia collectors, Eric Inselberg, that Manning had asked for a "BS" game-used jersey and helmet because the quarterback "didnt want to give up the real stuff."
Brook stated: "The first [email from 2008] we have since Eric saved it on his AOL account and the second [email from 2010] we have since Eli apparently saved it on his AOL account."
Lawyers for the Giants countered with a statement:
The email, taken out of context, was shared with the media by an unscrupulous memorabilia dealer and his counsel who for years has been seeking to leverage a big payday.
The email predates any litigation, and there was no legal obligation to store it on the Giants server. Eli Manning is well known for his integrity and this is just the latest misguided attempt to defame his character.
According to Sporting News, the alleged fake memorabilia scheme goes back to Manning's rookie year in 2004. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2014, also asserts that Manning's jersey from the 2008 Super Bowl, which hangs in Pro Football Hall of Fame, is a fake.