The New York Post reported Thursday that it obtained court papers that include a April 2010 email from the Giants quarterback to team equipment manager Joe Skiba asking for “2 helmets that can pass as game used.”
Three memorabilia collectors are suing the Giants, Manning, Skiba, memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports and others alleging that they conspired to dupe collectors of authentic game-worn uniforms.
Manning’s email to Skiba asking for the helmets followed one from Alan Zucker, his marketing agent, who requested two game-used helmets and jerseys, as per his contract with Steiner, the Post reported.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Brian Brook, says the email, which the two-time Super Bowl MVP turned over last week, proves that “Manning was looking to give non-game-used helmets to Steiner to satisfy — fraudulently — his contractual obligation.”
Even though the email exchange was sent from Manning’s private email account to an official Giants email address, the team failed to produce it when asked, Brook said. He alleges the team deleted the messages.
In another email, Skiba allegedly admitted to one of the plaintiffs that Manning asked him to create “BS” versions of memorabilia because he did not want to part with the real items.
Karen Kessler, a spokeswoman for the Giants lawyer McCarter English, released a statement claiming Manning’s email was being misrepresented.
“This 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,” she said. “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,” Kessler continued.
As CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported, Manning is known and loved by fans as the face of the Giants franchise. He has led the team to two Super Bowl victories, and he is known for being humble too.
“He’s just a regular guy, he’s not a flamboyant,” a fan said. “He doesn’t show his money around. He drives a Toyota.”
In New Jersey, residents were split on the meaning of the email, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
“Maybe they weren’t used, but they could pass as game used, yes,” said John Jenkins, of Jersey City. “Definitely.”
“You could wear a helmet in a game and it’s not tattered or anything like that, I think he just wanted to make a point the it needed to look the part,” Sheri Israel Duarte, of Nutley, said. “I don’t think he was trying to say that ‘let’s give them something that wasn’t game worn.'”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also weighed in Friday on the alleged scandal, calling Manning as liar who got caught. He also criticized the response from the lawyer representing the Giants.
“Talk about a politician’s non-answer,” Christie said. “The email was taken out of context? What’s the context? It looks like it’s a pretty complete back and forth.”
Christie also said he could never imagine Eli Manning’s brother doing such a thing, saying Peyton Manning is smarter.
Christie was guest hosting the “Boomer and Carton” show on WFAN.
Steiner Sports told 1010 WINS it does not comment on pending litigation.