The New York Giants have shaken up their equipment room less than two weeks after settling with three sports memorabilia collectors who accused quarterback Eli Manning and several members of the organization of providing bogus “game-worn” equipment that was sold to unsuspecting fans.
Longtime team employees Edward and Joseph Skiba and Ed Wagner Jr. were let go, multiple sources told ESPN. Joseph Skiba was the team’s equipment director. Edward Skiba, his brother, was the assistant equipment manager. Wagner was the equipment/locker room manager. He had worked for the Giants his entire adult life, according to a 1999 story by The New York Times. His father also was an equipment manager for the team.
The Giants declined to comment on the shakeup.
Joseph Skiba, who was a defendant in the original lawsuit, was asked by Manning in an email to get “2 helmets that can pass as game used.” Skiba later testified that he gave Manning two non-game-used helmets in that instance. The point of contention became whether helmets that were bought by collectors in other years were game used or not.
Skiba was not liable in the civil suit that was settled May 14, according to the judge’s summary judgment.
Skiba, who was accused of making the fake Manning helmets that were sold to collectors by Steiner Sports (the company with which Manning is under contract to provide game-worn jerseys and helmets for sale), had almost all the claims against him dismissed. The judge agreed with his counsel’s arguments that he never profited from the exchange of helmets, nor did he ever directly represent the items as game-used to consumers.
However, owner John Mara said in a deposition that he considered what Skiba did stealing from the team. The Giants did not represent the Skibas in the case, which stretched five years.
In one of the court filings, Manning’s lawyer accused memorabilia collector Eric Inselberg of being “engaged in a decades-long memorabilia scheme” in which he obtained, without permission, game-used Giants equipment, including Manning’s, from the Skibas as well as a local dry cleaner.
Wagner also was listed in the original plaintiff’s complaint, although he was eventually cleared of any liability in the civil case against Manning, the Giants and Steiner Sports.
The Giants are generally considered one of the more stable franchises, and turnover in the equipment room is rare. The Skibas had been with the organization since they were college students.