A lot of chatter on the Internet and in the media about New Orleans Saints Running Back Reggie Bush’s decision to forfeit his 2005 Heisman Trophy. This is a big deal, not just for USC and Southland football fans. The former USC tailback is the first player to give up the Heisman in its 75 year history. The award is considered one of the top honors in sports.
What happened? In a statement posted yesterday on the Saints’ website, Bush blamed the media for his decision: “The persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to my years at USC has been both painful and distracting.” Hmm. Even thought he admits “mistakes,” Bush doesn’t really take full responsibility for this awful situation nor the dishonor he has brought to himself and USC.
Recently, after a lengthy investigation, the NCAA determined Bush took cash and gifts from would-be agents while in college, according to the Los Angeles Times. That’s a clear violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association standards. There’s a good chance Bush would have been stripped of his Heisman, so he gave it up.
Also in that statement, Bush offers to help “…establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made.” Again, Bush needs to come clean about his mistakes before he can really help others to avoid them or find redemption from them.
Here’s the full statement by Reggie Bush regarding the Heisman Trophy from the Saints website.
One of the greatest honors of my life was winning the Heisman Trophy in 2005. For me, it was a dream come true.
But I know that the Heisman is not mine alone. Far from it. I know that my victory was made possible by the discipline and hard work of my teammates, the steady guidance of my coaches, the inspiration of the fans, and the unconditional love of my family and friends. And I know that any young man fortunate enough to win the Heisman enters into a family of sorts. Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name.
It is for these reasons that I have made the difficult decision to forfeit my title as Heisman winner of 2005. The persistent media speculation regarding allegations dating back to my years at USC has been both painful and distracting. In no way should the storm around these allegations reflect in any way on the dignity of this award, nor on any other institutions or individuals. Nor should it distract from outstanding performances and hard-earned achievements either in the past, present or future.
For the rest of my days, I will continue to strive to demonstrate through my actions and words that I was deserving of the confidence placed in me by the Heisman Trophy Trust. I would like to begin in this effort by turning a negative situation into a positive one by working with the Trustees to establish an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made. I am determined to view this event as an opportunity to help others and to advance the values and mission of the Heisman Trophy Trust.
I will forever appreciate the honor bestowed upon me as a winner of the Heisman. While this decision is heart-breaking, I find solace in knowing that the award was made possible by the support and love of so many. Those are gifts that can never be taken away.