A Jets rookie denies he was flipping off the world on
his (suddenly valuable) football card
LEON WASHINGTON'S cellphone rang incessantly last
week, and his friends weren't calling to compliment the Jets' rookie running
back on his fine performance so far this season. "People were like, 'What's
up with that picture you took shooting the bird?'" Washington said. This
puzzled him. "I can't even remember the last time I shot the bird."
As the week wore on, he realized what was happening.
When Washington posed last summer for a Bowman Signs of the Future card—a line
released by Topps to celebrate top rookies—he stood with his arms folded across
his chest and certain fingers extended. The card was released earlier this
month, and many who bought it saw what Topps's quality control inspectors
apparently missed: Washington flashing an obscene gesture.
But Washington insists he wasn't trying to be naughty;
rather, he says, he was trying to make an E with his fingers, a shout-out to
his friends on Jacksonville's East Side, where he grew up. Nevertheless, Topps
offered replacements, and collectors paid nearly $100 for the card on eBay.
"I was a little disappointed because I don't want to send that sort of
message," Washington said. "I'm not that kind of person."