The camera was whirring and Sonny Jurgensen was analyzing the Eddie Brown trade, saying: "The Redskins strengthened themselves . . . but had to give up a valuable commodity in return." His producer immediately cut him off.
Sonny, the producer said, this is a human being we're dealing with, not a "commodity." Let's try it again.
"This is the NFL," Jurgensen replied. "That's what football players are here."
As a commodity, Brown was like finding a mother lode in a mine thought tapped out. Three years ago he seemed on his way toward becoming a full-time veteran, the lowest form of NFL life, available to anyone willing to give Cleveland $100.
You can hardly keep a defensive line in tape for a week for $100. And what a return, in every sense of the words, the Redskins received. Unless there are conditions involving performance attached to the trade, he brought the Redskins one player and one prospect, and second, third- and fifth-round draft choices over the next two years.
In human terms, Brown was even more valuable, a man who long since had come to terms with pain, who saved a Redskin victory against the Cardinals in St. Louis last season by jumping parallel to the turf, grabbing an interception and then holding the ball after langing on severely injured ribs.
The only other Redskin who ever got more out of his physical talent also was named Brown - Larry. And because Eddie Brown played with such verve and intelligence he could honestly be called inspirational.
He had a deep impact on Washington; he had a deeper impact on the Redskins, or at least those Redkins who also make a living by hurling their bodies toward other flying bodies.
Nothing has created such a stir here since another special special-teams player, Bill Malinchak, was let go during training camp. Was it two year ago?
Sentiment aside, who won the trade? Well, George Allen looks like a knockout winner at the moment. But then he always does. The full impact for the Redskins will not be known for perhaps several years - until you look back and see who those draft choices became.
From 3,000 miles, we can see clearly now the expression on Allen's face. There is a smile and he is saying, as he did so often in Washington. "We got ourselves an All-Pro player without touching our starting lineup. Great trade, Great trade."
Surely, Ken Houston will come to Allen's mind. He will remind the Ram faithful that he traded five players for Houston. None of them started for the Redskins; none of them plays regularly now.
Coach Jack Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard have moved quickly to establish their brand on the Redskins. They get high grades for courage, trading next season's No. 1 draft choice and arguably the team's most regular player before the second full day of serious practice.
How bright these moves are remains to be seen, though the arrival of Lemar Parrish certainly would cause anyone with a mind to consider exactly what Beathard and Pardee executed yesterday.
"He doesn't mind returning kicks," Beathard said today. "We knew that."
Hmmmmm. Not 25 yards away - and moments after Beathard said that - Parrish said: "I'd rather not do that, if I had a choice. I could play better defense if I didn't have to run back kicks.
"But I'm not a sticky kind of guy. We'll talk about it." Others will get the chance for Brown's job in the next few weeks. Parrish may well be persuaded to assume the chore by the first regular-season game.
The player most useful most quickly for the Redskins will be Donnie Hickman, the guard who helped Ricky Bell become the first player selected in the NFL draft last year.
Hickman was part of the three-man "strong side" of a Southern California line that included a first-round draft choice, tackle Marvin Powell, and a second-round choice, left end Gill Gay. Hickman lasted until the fifth round, primarily because, at 6-2, he considered tiny for a blocker.
Of tackle Jeff Williams, Beathard admitted: "He's a ways away." But one never knows about the future. Five years ago a young linebacker the Redskins received from the Patriots was similarly described. Brad Dusek this year will be a defensive cornerstone.
And the way the Beathard-Pardee swap shop is moving stock those high-round draft choices might be gone before dusk tonight. There is a lot of future-is-now blood still in Redskin management.
For Brown, he would be at peace with the trade more quickly if he viewed pro sports through Dick Motta's glasses. The Bullet coach says everyone should regard the NFL, or NBA or major-league baseball as one large company, with branch offices called Redskins, Celtics and Orioles.
When a player is traded, he should simply consider it the way an ordinary worker would react to being shifted from say the Washington office to the Los Angeles office. Sounds fine, except regular humans have more options. There are other "companies" to consider if the move seems sour.
"My roommate," Mike Bragg said of Brown. "For two days. I guess Kipling said it best: 'Mine is but to do or die; mine is not to wonder why.'"