WASHINGTON — If you saw a $20 bill in the street you’d probably bless your good fortune and pocket it. But what if you found something truly valuable and knew it was wrong to keep it?
Would you call the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan to ask what it might be worth in trade? That’s what “Josh” did on Thursday after finding several Washington Redskins defensive workbooks in the trash near the team’s practice facility in Ashburn, Va. Edward “Ejiro” Ederaine, a Fresno State linebacker signed as a rookie free agent in May, was released on Saturday. Obviously, he didn’t turn in all of his materials as required and just trashed them on the way out of town.
Fortunately, Josh said he was a Redskins fan and was returning the materials. But, maybe he could get some “swag” for being a good Samaritan. However, it’s not like catching a home run ball and trading it to the player for a signed bat. That deal hurts no one. But leveraging workbooks for anything more than doing the right thing is wrong.
Now the caller is under no real obligation to return the workbooks. Nobody goes to prison for such a thing. He could have kept the workbooks to show to friends. There are even collectors that would buy them. Nothing truly bad would happen if that was the extent of it.
But the right thing to do is hand it over to the Redskins and be done with it. Luckily, Josh said that was his intent.
What a dangerous thing this could have been. If a fan of another team, and there are plenty of Cowboys, Giants and Eagles fans in the Washington area, found those workbooks you better believe pages would be flashed across the internet.
Would a competing organization accept the workbooks? You’d like to think not, that civility would rule. But that’s not likely. A head coach wouldn’t take it, but some assistant coach or staffer probably would. That way, the head coach has plausible deniability. The pressure to win in the NFL is too great to just say no.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Players lose or forget playbooks all too often. It’s a big reason why teams now load the information directly onto computer tablets that are password protected. What Josh found was workbooks, but information can certainly be gleaned from them. And, those workbooks should be returned by a player just like the playbook. It was probably an oversight on both sides on a day when 10 players were released.
Sports is filled with “cheating.” Pitchers now put gloves over their mouths when talking to catchers for fear of a lip reader in the opposing dugout. So do football coaches because New England was caught illegally filming the opposing sideline signals. Short of hacking into competing teams’ computers like the St. Louis Cardinals did to the Houston Astros last year, intelligence gathering is fair game.
Josh just needs to hand over the workbooks, accept thanks from his favorite team, and move on. And if he gets tickets to a game, so be it.
But do the right thing. Life will reward you for it with a better parking space or an extra green light in rush hour. Who knows — maybe even a win by your favorite team.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.