Ever heard of the phrase "Cheaters never prosper"? Well, this was exactly what happened to Jerry Rogers, the Fairview High School's... Quarterback Sneak.
A big football game between Westdale (Greg and Marcia's school), and Fairview high schools is coming up, and Marcia is putting up posters for it. This is seen by three Fairview football team members, amongst them the infamous quarterback, Jerry Rogers, who suddenly walks over to Marcia, offering to help her hang up another poster.
Meanwhile, Westdale's star halfback, Greg, is at home, playing football with his younger brothers, when they see Marcia walk in, with Jerry Rogers, no less. And to make matters worse, she finds him quite dreamy, much to boys' annoyance. Next, Peter takes the posters from Marcia, saying that they don't need any help from a traitor, and that he "wouldn't even be accepted to Westdale next year if they find out his sister was a double agent".
Which Marcia isn't, she's more of an "unwitting victim," but Jerry Rogers is to be, as Greg is putting the plays to his playbook for the game, and he plans to swipe it for his team. One day after school, Jerry takes Marcia home, and while she is getting them some lemonade, Jerry attempts to get the playbook. At first he thinks it's in Greg's room, and attempts to bluff his way in, but then sees the playbook on the living room table, where Greg had left it after he and Mike had went over the plays. Which he then attempts to steal, only to drop it on the floor, where it is seen by Bobby outside, once he hears it drop and looks inside.
He tells it to Greg, who believes him, except that when they call Marcia upstairs to talk about it, she refuses to believe their claims. However, Greg decides to give Jerry a fair shake to see if he really was trying to steal the playbook, by giving him another chance at it, and they'll apologize if Jerry is actually innocent. Although very upset, Marcia agrees to it.
However, Greg wouldn't of course let Jerry get the real playbook, so he, Peter and Bobby decide to make up a fake playbook, by putting into the fake playbook the exact opposite of the plays in the real playbook. So the plan is on.
Marcia invites Jerry over, and puts the (fake) playbook on the table with some magazines. Soon, Jerry comes in, and once Marcia again goes to get some lemonade, Jerry hides the playbook in his hoodie, and when Marcia notices the playbook missing, she realizes Greg and Bobby were right and is upset. Jerry, seeing her, quickly makes up a lie that he forgot the coach called him in to take team photos and leaves.
Next up, the boys are in their room, when Mike comes in, him having overheard the boys chuckling about how they pulled a fast one on Jerry. However, Mike points out that they actually duped Fairview - not just Jerry Rogers, and that by giving them a fake playbook, now it would be a dishonest victory for Westdale if they won knowing that Fairview didn't know their plays. Greg then tries to make it right - by calling Jerry and telling him that the playbook is fake, but Jerry doesn't seem to take the advice.
Comes the big game, and as it turns out, Westdale managed to clobber Fairview honestly, 20-7, and Jerry Rogers also got a taste of his own medicine - when the coach found out about Jerry stealing the playbook, he was benched in the first quarter.
Throughout the episode, Carol talks about her high school sweetheart, "Tank" Gates, a defensive lineman and school hero at Westdale (presumably Carol's alma mater). Tank is the stereotypical Jerk Jock who loves living up his past accomplishments, and in the end reveals that he had heard of rumors of the stolen playbook and that Westdale was now a big underdog, gambling on the outcome of the game! Carol — up until Tank's loose lips reveals this — still was dreamy-eyed over Tank, but then admits that she never really was that much into Tank. Music to Mike's ears!
Tropes present in this episode:
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Jerry gets kicked off the football team once his coach learns that he had stolen Westdale High's playbook.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Carol was once Tank's "Twinkle Toes."
- Hilarity Ensues: We never do find out if Westdale's coaches found out about the situation or if they counseled Greg about mishandling the situation. He would certainly not be out of trouble by any means in real life. As such, both teams would be in deep trouble for their shenanigans in general, as it can fairly be assumed that Westdale had a few less-than-kosher tricks up its sleeve to try to gain an advantage over Fairview. (And remember, folks, this is a high school football game.)
- I Did What I Had to Do and Necessary Evil: Greg taking matters into his own hands to create a fake playbook for Fairview rival Jerry Rogers to attempt to steal. Why Mike never tells Greg that he should have gone to the coach immediately if he suspected anything was amiss — and why he seems to condone the one-upmanship shenanigans in general between Westdale and Fairview is never explained.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Greg and his scheme to pre-empt Jerry Rogers' plans to obtain the Westdale High playbook by creating one of fake plays. Mike quickly tells Greg he mishandled the situation, and that note Westdale can now win dishonestly since Fairview does have players who do play by the rules, and by believing that the ill-gotten playbook is legitimate, they would be trounced into oblivion.
- Jerk Jock: Jerry Rogers. Tank Gates is a grown-up version.
- Moral Myopia: To combat the dishonest players from rival Fairview High, Greg creates a fake playbook, and is so blinded by his desire for one-upmanship he neither sees that what he is doing is just as dishonest nor does he think to go to his coach and/or athletic director to get help with stopping the situation.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Tank constantly calls Mike every "M" name but Mike; Mark and Mac are just two.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Tank Gates, who while he had legitimate ability and was a star, over-inflated his accomplishments.