Fennelly: Would Eli Manning Risk His Pristine Reputation for a Few Extra Bucks?

The claims are said to be false, or exaggerated at best. Eli Manning, the Giants’ quarterback and face of the franchise is being accused of fraud by three New Jersey sports memorabilia dealers, claiming the future Hall of Famer knowingly gave them equipment that was not “game worn.”

In a lawsuit filed in Bergen County Superior Court, Manning and Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba are named as defendants in a case that dates back six years. The plaintiffs allege that Manning and Skiba purposely deceived them by claiming the equipment they received was “game worn”, which increases the value of the items significantly.

From ESPN.com:

 On April 27, 2010, Manning sent an email to Giants head equipment manager Joe Skiba asking for “two helmets that can pass as game used.” The email was initiated after Manning was sent a note by Alan Zucker, his marketing agent throughout his career, to come up with some equipment to satisfy his obligation to provide such materials to sports memorabilia company Steiner Sports.

 The email is said to be damaging, but there is plenty of room for reasonable doubt and quite a number of suspicions surrounding the suit which names a slew of defendants including Manning, Skiba, the reputable memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports and Giants CEO John Mara.

 McCarter & English, the law firm representing the Giants in the case, released the below 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.”

 The big question is why Manning, who was ranked the 13th-highest paid professional athlete of 2016 by Forbes Magazine, would risk his pristine reputation for a few thousand extra bucks trying to pass off bogus memorabilia.

 The short answer is he either oblivious to how the memorabilia industry works or he was trying to do someone a favor. Eli clearly doesn’t need the money. Many are certain the court will see through these charges and either drop the case or settle it for much less than the plaintiffs are asking.

 Now I’m not prejudging this case as the facts have yet to be heard. Anyone can sue anyone else in this country these days. Until tort reform is passed by legislators, frivolous lawsuits will continue to flood out court system. In this particular case, Manning and his lawyers cooperated fully, which led to the email between him and Skiba to be discovered, which is another reason why many feel Manning will be exonerated.


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