January 30, 2014

Eli Manning may just have upstaged Peyton and given the NFL a big headache

And, just in time for the Super Bowl, too.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, younger but SB-luckier brother of Peyton Manning, has been named in a lawsuit as allegedly selling bogus merchandise from  his two Super Bowl wins. 
A helmet on display in the (NFL Hall of Fame) — supposedly worn by Manning in Big Blue’s 2008 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots — is just one of dozens of fake items the football superstar and his Giants cohorts have created to fool fans and make money from collectors over the years, the lawsuit alleges.

Other “forgeries” passed off on collectors include several Manning jerseys, two 2012 Super Bowl helmets and a 2004 “rookie season” helmet, according to court papers.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning took part in the scheme so he could hang on to his personal items, according to the documents.

The memorabilia ruse is so common among Giants players and staffers, the documents claim, that team equipment manager Joe Skiba openly discussed Manning’s fake game gear on an official Giants e-mail account.
Well, he may have done it to hold on to personal items, but, if he created more than one bogus duplicate, then the financial fraud implications would be clear.

That said, the plot thickens. Eric Inselberg, the person filing the suit, alleges the Giants' team dry cleaner was also in on the plot.

But, the plot thickens further. Inselberg was himself indicted on a criminal memorabilia fraud case in 2011, though it was eventually dropped. He claims Giants personnel lied to the grand jury.

That said, what if other players, especially quarterbacks, have done similar.

Peyton? Tom Brady, maybe? Ben Roethlisberger, perhaps? Aaron Rodgers? Who knows? And, as with Eli and this suit, a star QB could always get a starry-eyed clubhouse person or outside hanger-on to help with this.

Of course, there's another way. Jerseys, etc. are hard to change, but not helmets. Why not just wear a new one each offensive series and sell it as legit? Of course, that would drive prices down.

And, back to two paragraphs above. Inselberg names the Giants, not just Eli, in the suit, and alleges the team was a willing and knowing participant.

My snap initial thought is that there's a lot of this happening in the NFL. Hell, in pro baseball, clubhouse men were allegedly faking autographs as far back as Babe Ruth's time (his own), and certainly by Joe DiMaggio's time. Wikipedia notes this, and the "clubhouse autograph" issue, on its autograph page.

It's probably like steroids. Some players are more likely to do it than others. Some teams are more likely to turn a blind eye to it than others. It can be more tightly controlled, but probably never eliminated.

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