Now the trial, which was expected to take approximately four weeks, will be averted altogether, keeping Manning from possibly having to take the stand to testify about his alleged role in a scheme to falsely depict helmets and other pieces of Giants equipment as game-worn. Team co-owner John Mara had also been placed on the list of potential witnesses.
The Giants portrayed the plaintiffs as having themselves sold fake memorabilia. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2014 by Eric Inselberg, a major collector and dealer of items related to the team who was indicted three years earlier on federal charges of selling counterfeit jerseys. He got those charges dropped after pointing to inconsistencies in testimony by Giants equipment managers, and eventually his lawsuit was joined by two other collectors, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown.
The lawsuit included an accusation that two helmets purchased by the plaintiffs, including one purportedly worn by Manning in the 2008 Super Bowl which wound up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, were not game-worn, as claimed by Giants equipment managers. The veteran quarterback, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, was accused of directing his team’s staffers to create the bogus items because he preferred to hang onto to the authentic mementos of his career.
A court filing from April 2017 showed a 2008 email exchange from Inselberg to equipment manager Joe Skiba, in which the former asked if a helmet and jersey being represented as game-used were actually “the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didnt want to give up the real stuff.” Skiba replied, “BS ones, you are correct.”
Another email exchange, this one from Manning’s personal account to Skiba, appeared to show the quarterback asking Skiba to produce two helmets “that can pass as game used.” After those emails were made public, Manning angrily denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney said in a court filing this month that his client meant in that exchange to ask Skiba for helmets that would “satisfy the requirement of being game-used.”
In a statement Monday, the Giants said that Inselberg, Jakab and Godown “have resolved all claims in their pending litigation … in accordance with a confidential settlement agreement reached today” with the defendants, including Steiner Sports, a prominent memorabilia company with which Manning had a contract to provide authentic equipment worn by him. “The compromise agreement, entered into by all parties, should not be viewed as supporting any allegations, claims or defenses,” the team added.
According to ESPN, 14 lawyers representing the various sides gathered that morning at the Bergen County Justice Center, but while there was “little optimism” at the time that “a settlement would soon be reached,” an agreement emerged a few hours later.
“All parties are grateful to have the matter, which began in 2014, concluded and are now focused on football, the fans and the future,” the Giants said.
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