The Forfeit of the Century

I’m not up on my sports history enough to know of the biggest forfeits in sports history.  But, one thing that I can be assured of is that Reggie Bush’s forfeit of the Heisman Trophy has to be near the top of that list.  It is assumed by many, including myself, that Bush was anticipating (or may have even been told) that his Heisman Trophy, which he won in 2005, was going to be taken away.  Reggie Bush made the decision that instead of waiting for the Heisman Trust to make a decision, he would jump the gun and make it for them.  Something inside of me wants to be very disappointed in Reggie Bush.  He didn’t put up much of a fight, attack the Heisman Trust members, or place the blame elsewhere.  Bush essentially gave up the trophy and then released a statement, through his current team, vowing to live up to what is expected of Heisman Trophy winners.  As much as I want to rip Bush apart, I can’t help but commend this 25 year old man for his handling of the situation.

Reggie Bush is, or at least was, considered to be one of the greatest college football players of all time.  Every single Saturday that he attended the University of Southern California you were sure that there would be a Bush sighting that night on Sportscenter.  He was a highlight reel all by himself.  Reggie Bush was a huge portion of college football for three seasons.  Expectations were through the roof for Bush after being taken 2nd overall in the 2006 draft.  To this day he may not have lived up to the lofty goals set for him, but he is still a big part of the New Orleans’ Saints offense and one of the best playmakers in the NFL.  Reggie Bush plays can be seen all over NFL highlight reels.  He was once a member of one of sports’ most prestigious groups.  Reggie Bush was a Heisman Trophy winner.

College football, and the Heisman Trust, is now missing one of their 75 members, and I think that they are worse off for it.  Yes, Bush may have received benefits from boosters, agents, accomplices, etc.  But, whatever Bush did off the field, I fail to see the connection to his performance on the field.  I completely support suspending college players, penalizing programs, and even removing bowl eligibility for programs is recruiting violations are uncovered or if players receive improper benefits.  Schools are feeling the effects of stricter enforcement now as players such as Georgia wide receiver (and future first round pick) A.J. Green, South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, and North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin.  But, what is anyone gaining from punishing Reggie Bush for something that occurred at least five years ago?  Was this a “hail mary” by college football to try and convince people that they have control over agents and their relationships with players?  Or maybe an effort by the Heisman Trust to eliminate players that received improper benefits from their prestigious group?  Whatever the motive was behind this movement, I’m calling it complete bullshit.  I would not hesitate to assume that 20% of college football players have broken the rules (or the rules were broken while they were recruited) in their college careers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the number wasn’t much higher than that.

Reggie Bush has become the poster child for a witch hunt that seems to have no end in sight.  Bush is simply being made an example of to scare of other college athletes from dealing with agents or accepting improper benefits.  Well, I have news for the NCAA…this problem is not going away.  As long college players are not locked inside of their dorm rooms while not at practice or a game, agents will be striving to contact them.  As long as some dumbass is willing to offer A.J. Green $1000 for his jersey, he will continue to sell it.  As long as Deion Sanders invited Dez Bryant to his house, he will go.  These are the problems that you encounter when universities make millions of dollars off of players, while they simply spend countless hours per week preparing to play a sport that they are not compensated for (other than a scholarship that players rarely take full advantage of).

I commend you Reggie Bush.  I commend you for your swift and hands-off handling of the situation.  I commend you for your realization that, no matter what you said, you could not change the decision that was inevitably going to be made.  I commend you for realizing that all of this bad press would simply be a distraction for your current NFL team, who by the way is trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions (the first they received with your help).  I commend you for not dwelling on something that happened five (if not more) years ago.

But, I do want to commend the Heisman Trust for inevitably realizing that the 2005 Heisman Trophy belongs to Reggie Bush (whether clearly shown or just subliminally known) and not giving it out to an undeserving player…


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