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12 July, 2013

I publish the following story on Wrights Lane, not only because of my love for the game of baseball and admiration for those who play and coach it at any level, but also due to the fact that it reflects the honesty and integrity of a young man who did "the right thing".

Money Can’t Buy A Clear Conscience

Jeremy Affeldt
The world of professional sports has its fair share of ups and downs. An aggressive media helps feed the average adoring fan a steady diet of stuff that makes headlines, whether it’s positive or negative. 

In fact, it’s often what happens off the field that gets the most attention. The recent arrest of New England Patriots’ tight end, Aaron Hernandez, on murder charges highlights an ever-growing trend of high-paid athletes making poor decisions away from the game and ruining their careers in the process. It is hard to read one of these sad stories of successful-players-gone-bad without feeling skeptical of every good, young player taken in a draft. Who can you trust these days?

Enter San Francisco Giants’ pitcher, Jeremy Affeldt. The veteran reliever signed a contract back in 2010, which gave him $500,000 more than was actually agreed upon. The conscience-stricken hurler chose to do the right thing and give the money back to the ball club. Since the ink had already dried Affeldt was actually entitled to keep the money, as it was a mistake on the Giants’ part. Even an assistant General manager encouraged him to keep the windfall. However, Jeremy Affeldt is not like most athletes. No, in this world of fat salaries and sometimes even fatter egos, he chose principle over prosperity. 

Said Affeldt, “I talked to Bobby (the Giants’ GM, Bobby Evans) the next day and said, ‘I can’t take that money. I won’t sleep well at night knowing I took that money because every time I open my paycheck I’ll know it’s not right.’”

The point is not really the money, even though the amount is very significant. Yes, it was half a million dollars! I think we can get all bogged down in the amount and lose sight of the actual act of integrity. If Jeremy Affeldt was buying a couple of packs of gum at the local Dollar Tree, was given 89 cents too much change, and then went back and returned it, would we be hearing about it from the sports media? Likely not. But to the Lord, the principle is the same. If something doesn’t belong to you, give it back. It’s the right thing to do and someone who walks in integrity does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Period. No photo op. No bells and whistles. 

Today, Jeremy Asffeldt is $500,000 poorer but spiritually richer and a whole world wiser because of the choice he made that day.

In Psalm 15 we read, “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous… who does his neighbour no wrong… who keeps his oath even when it hurts.” Is it any wonder that this past winter Jeremy Affeldt was given a lucrative 3-year contract with the Giants? Money can buy a lot of things but one thing it cannot buy is a clear conscience. Just ask Jeremy Affeldt.

Thanks to Facebook friend Larry Balkwill of Chatham for bringing this story to my attention.

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