Eli Manning s looks on from the sidelines during Giants...

Eli Manning s looks on from the sidelines during Giants game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Attorneys for the Giants dispute the idea that emails between Eli Manning and the team’s equipment manager provide a smoking gun that proves the quarterback conspired to defraud collectors by selling fake game-used memorabilia.

“The 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,” Karen Kessler, spokeswoman for Giants counsel McCarter & English, said Thursday. “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.”

The Manning emails were included in court documents filed in New Jersey’s Bergen County Superior Court and obtained by Newsday. They are part of a case by three memorabilia collectors who are pressing a civil racketeering suit against the Giants, Manning, equipment manager Joe Skiba, Steiner Sports and others, including team co-owner John Mara.

The emails include one from Manning to Skiba from April 27, 2010, requesting “2 helmets that can pass as game used” and another from Manning to his marketing agent, Alan Zucker, telling Zucker he “should be able to get them for tomorrow.” Zucker had requested “2 game used helmets and 2 game used jerseys per your contract [with Steiner Sports].”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that the emails prove “Manning was looking to give non-game-used helmets to Steiner to satisfy — fraudulently — his contractual obligation.”

Manning turned the emails over last week, the documents say. The collectors and their attorneys say the Giants deleted other pertinent emails.

The case, which was first filed in 2014, is set to go to trial on Sept. 25.

With Jim Baumbach

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