Earlier this year, after NCAA officials determined that NFL player Reggie Bush and his family had accepted “improper benefits” from the University of Southern California’s athletic program while he was in college, the former USC running back was ruled ineligible for the 2005 season in which he received the Heisman Trophy. And yesterday (Tues. Sep 14), the New Orleans Saints‘ star player relinquished his title and handed over his trophy.
Bush made history by being the first player in the Heisman’s 75-year history to return the coveted trophy and his decision comes just shortly after reports suggested that the Heisman committee was due to officially strip him of the title in the near future. Officials have yet to determine if the Heisman Trust committee will just vacate the 2005 trophy or give it to the first runner up (Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans).
In a statement released through the New Orleans Saints (who won the Super Bowl last year) Bush said:
“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.”
Damn! He might not have his Heisman anymore but at least he has that big, shiny Super Bowl ring on his finger. And there’s no possible way (that we know of, at least) that he can lose that…