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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Bush admits 'mistakes,' surrenders Heisman

By Ted Miller

Former USC running back Reggie Bush is now the first Heisman Trophy winner to surrender the award

Reggie Bush
Former USC running back Reggie Bush has forfeited the Heisman Trophy. It's the first time college football's top award was returned by a recipient.
That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is trying to find deeper meaning in his 338-word statement, which I've included at the bottom of this post in its entirety.

Here are the highlights as I see them:

"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."

Bush is saying he was entrusted with the Heisman Trophy's "good name." Therefore, his decision to forfeit it functions as his first admission of guilt. A lame, roundabout one, absolutely, but one nonetheless.

"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."

This "educational program" could begin and end with this: Don't take money and gifts from shady agents when you know it's against NCAA rules.

But the operative word here is "mistakes." Again, an admission of sorts.

He concludes:

"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."

I have no idea what that means. It made me want to take a shower, but I'm not completely sure why.

Couple of things stand out here.

First, Bush chose to use a carefully prepared, lawyerly and soulless statement to forfeit the Heisman Trophy. There was no clear and unequivocal admission of what his "mistakes" were. There was no direct apology for his actions. He only refers twice to "allegations." When you read the entire statement below, see if you feel, as I did, the slight smirk that comes through.

Second, this whole, sordid affair is almost over. On the checklist of all the potential events that could happen in the four-plus years since Yahoo! broke the story, this is one of the final boxes to mark. At some time in next few months, USC's appeal of NCAA sanctions will be heard. The appeals committee will either reject USC's arguments, or it will reduce its penalties. USC has a strong case, but that probably won't matter.

At that point, however, all will be concrete. There will be no more speculation. And everyone can move on.

Of course, Bush moves on with the burden that this is now written permanently in the annals of college football history: First to surrender the Heisman due to NCAA rules violations.

What he achieved on the football field will be forgotten. But that fact will not. Ever. It's his enduring legacy.

Here's the entire statement:

"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."