Years from now, it might rank up there with a string from John Lennon's guitar or a snippet of Marilyn Monroe's hair.
Perhaps that's what two D.C. Fire Department paramedics were thinking Monday night. Officials said the two men walked off with Joe Theismann's jersey after taking him to Arlington Hospital.
The 36-year-old Washington Redskins quarterback was wearing the jersey when he suffered a broken leg on what many have speculated could turn out to be the last play of his career. The disappearance and subsequent reappearance of the jersey are the subjects of official investigations by the police and fire departments.
The white jersey, found Tuesday night, will be returned to the Redskins today, according to fire department spokesman Ray Alfred. He added that the two paramedics who took the quarterback to the hospital, Henry Lyles and William McLaughlin, have been assigned to administrative duties until the fire department investigation is completed.
"The question is, did anyone from the Redskins give the nod of approval" for the paramedics to walk off with the jersey, Alfred said, "or did they snatch it?" He said the fire department hopes to have the answer by the end of the week.
Lyles and McLaughlin were members of a reserve ambulance crew on standby at RFK Stadium when Theismann suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg after being sacked by three members of the New York Giants. The paramedics took him to the hospital, Alfred said, then left with the jersey.
"I understand that at least one of the paramedics was showing it around in our Communications Division," Alfred said. "There was no attempt on his part to hide it."
On Tuesday, an employe of a novelty shop in Silver Spring called the fire department and said that a woman claiming to be the wife of a paramedic who had driven Theismann to the hospital had the jersey and wanted to sell it.
The case bounced from the fire department to the police department's Internal Affairs Division to the U.S. attorney's office, and finally back to the fire department for administrative action.
In the meantime, Alfred said, the fire department called the paramedics. McLaughlin said he had the jersey, Alfred said, and gave it to fire department officials Tuesday night.