I’d have a lot more respect for Reggie Bush if he had stood up last week and said the following:
“I won the Heisman Trophy because of what I did on the field. In case you didn’t notice, I was a pretty damn good player on a team that won the national championship in 2004 and came within a few seconds of winning it again in 2005.
“Yeah, my family and I took a bunch of money and stuff. So what? USC made millions off of me and my teammates. I don’t see anybody asking THEM to give that money back!
“I’m not giving up the Heisman Trophy. And if those folks at the Heisman Trust want it back they are going to have to come to my house and get it. So, in the immortal words of Les Miles: ‘Have a great day!”
But no, Reggie Bush didn’t take a stand. I was with you, Reggie, until you went to great pains to say that returning the Heisman was “definitely not an admission of guilt. It’s just me showing respect to the Heisman Trophy.”
So let me see if I have this straight. You, Mr. Bush, are returning the single biggest individual award in college football but you didn’t do anything wrong. You just thought it was the right thing to do. You just did it out of the goodness of your heart.
Sorry, Reggie. I ain’t buying it. Let me propose an alternative theory.
You wanted to save yourself the public embarrassment of having the trophy taken away. You and your “advisors” wanted calm down the folks who are paying your endorsement money. The first rule of politics is to get a bad story off the front page with another story. And that is what you did.
Even your former offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, saw through it.
“He had a chance to apologize and look like a good guy,” the Washington head coach told ESPN’s Shelley Smith. “But in giving it back and not apologizing, he just looks like an idiot again.”
And he likes you.
No, Mr. Bush, you want to have it both ways and you can’t. You’ve already had your image stripped from USC’s Heritage Hall. When they get through scrubbing the USC athletic offices, it will be like Reggie Bush never existed. Now there will be a blank space where your name used to be on the Heisman Trophy list.
As great as you were, and still are, you have dodged and weaved on this question for five years. Your school got hammered. A lot of guys you played with, who will never get paid for playing, are hurt.
You called the new athletics director, Pat Haden. What you actually said or why you called still isn’t clear. You said it was an apology. Pat Haden said that if an apology came out of your mouth, he didn’t hear it. Guess you were trying to have it both ways again.
But the important thing, Reggie, is that you got paid. And you deserve every dime you get in the NFL because you are a great, great player. One of the best I’ve ever seen.
But all that money, as great as it us, won’t be able to provide an answer to your grandchildren when, someday, they ask why your name is not on the Heisman Trophy list. They will ask why their grandfather, who they heard was one of the greatest players in the history of USC and college football, doesn’t get any love from his old school. Grandpa, did you do something wrong?
There won’t be a public relations person or an “advisor” there to answer that question for you. You’ll have handle that one yourself. I wish you the best of luck with that.
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