EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — An angry and emotional Eli Manning has denied providing fake game-used memorabilia to a collector, insisting he will be vindicated.
Manning addressed the accusations on Thursday after a plaintiff in a 2014 lawsuit recently filed a motion to compel testimony that included an email from Manning to a team equipment manager asking for two helmets that could pass as game-used items.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP refused to discuss the specifics of the civil case, which is scheduled to go to trial in September in state Superior Court in Bergen County,
“I will say I have never done what I have been accused of doing,” Manning said at a Giants offseason availability. “I have no reason nor have I had any reason to do anything of that nature. I have done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide, and I know when this is done everyone will see it the same way.”
Manning said he can handle people attacking him for his play. Attacking his integrity is something else, and his voice reflected that he was upset.
“I think my track record of how I have handled myself since I have been here in New York since 2004 speaks for itself,” Manning said. “I have tried to do everything with class and be a standup citizen. That’s what I have done.”
Sports memorabilia collector Eric Inselberg of Short Hills sued Manning, Giants co-owner John Mara and others in 2014, alleging they engaged in a scam to sell fake “game-worn” equipment for profit. He also asked that the NFL team be held accountable for the lies that led to his indictment on federal changes that ruined his business.
The federal charges against Inselberg were later dropped.
His lawsuit against Manning and the Giants returned to the headlines recently when the plaintiff filed a motion to compel testimony. It included that email from Manning to a team equipment manager.
Manning insisted that email was taken out of context, adding some recent court filings will make that clear.
“This was first reported three years ago and I have been dealing with it for a long time, but I am just more angry than anything having to deal with it, knowing I have done nothing wrong and still being attacked,” Manning said.
Manning said he has been surprised how people have turned in the wake of the email, which he gave to the plaintiff in discovery.
“...Someone starts something up and everybody turns against you very quickly,” Manning said. “It hurts.”
He said the league has not talked to him about the allegations.
Manning has a deal with Steiner Sports to provide memorabilia. He said has never personally sold or made any money off a jersey or helmet sale.
Manning, who is scheduled to earn almost $20 million in salary and bonuses this season, was asked why he had a contract with a memorabilia dealer when he made so much money on the field.
“Well, it’s just autographs,” he said. “It is just a way to sign your name, and I think a lot of people do it. It is just part of the business.”
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