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Digital Dilemma
David Epstein
November 27, 2006
A Jets rookie denies he was flipping off the world on his (suddenly valuable) football card
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November 27, 2006

Digital Dilemma

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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."

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