FanDuel - WFBC

September 14, 2010

Reggie Bush says he's going to forfeit his Heisman Trophy: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush isn't waiting on the Heisman Trophy Trust to rule on whether it will take back the award he won in 2005 as a member of the USC football team.

In a statement released by the Saints on Tuesday afternoon, Bush said he plans on giving back the Heisman Trophy.

posted by BornIcon to football at 04:54 PM - 33 comments

That must have been a tough decision, but it is the correct one, and I am impressed.

posted by scully at 05:30 PM on September 14

Hahahahaha... Gotta love Reggie Bush sticking it to the man by giving back this trophy. "Y'all can have your little Heisman back... I'm just going to chill here with my Super Bowl ring."

This was the only possible way for Bush to embarrass the Heisman committee and the BCS system, and he took it. Much props.

posted by Goyoucolts at 05:48 PM on September 14

Wasn't it an already forgone conclusion that they were going to take it back? Sorry, but this feels a bit like "You can't fire me! I quit!"

posted by pholcomb at 05:51 PM on September 14

Bush isn't sticking it to the Heisman committee with this move. His statement makes that clear: "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."

I'm glad he's trying to turn a negative into something positive. Time will tell whether he's committed to doing that, but this is a good first step.

posted by rcade at 05:58 PM on September 14

Ah come on, rcade... I believe Bush's statement just about as much as I buy Tiger Wood's statement(s) after all his dirty laundry got aired. I think pholcomb has this one dead to rights. Bush got tired of the little power trips being played by the Committee, knew he was going to lose the trophy, and finally said "Fuck this, have the damn thing back already."

I mean, being the first Heisman winner to GIVE BACK the trophy sounds way better than being the first winner to have it TAKEN AWAY. Plus, he makes another good PR move by starting a foundation to support student athletes "and help them avoid some of the mistakes I made." Bush just turned a losing hand into a winning hand.

posted by Goyoucolts at 06:04 PM on September 14

The Heisman committee denied the press reports that it had already decided to strip Bush of the trophy.

So you think Bush lied in his public statement, but you love that he's "sticking it to the man." That makes no sense at all. The Heisman folks didn't do anything but discuss whether to enforce its own rules after Bush became the first winner ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The person who did wrong here was Bush. He disgraced his school, the Heismans and himself.

posted by rcade at 06:18 PM on September 14

So did you honestly think the Heisman Committee would have let him keep the trophy? You were leading the charge in favor of it being "taken away." Bush realized that he was most likely going to lose the Heisman, and jumped the gun.

And being polite in your press conference doesn't hide the fact that he's giving back the trophy. In my mind, that's sticking it to the man. "Thanks, but no thanks." He's taken the most coveted individual award in college football and gave it back. That takes moxy. Look at the last line of his statement. "These are gifts that can't be taken away." Fact is, he won the Heisman on the field. Whether his name is or isn't affixed to the record is irrelevant. He gave a shout out to the people who voted for him, and acknowledged that his on-field accomplishments can't be denied.

As for disgracing himself, his school, etc... Debate will rage about that forever.

posted by Goyoucolts at 06:30 PM on September 14

I can't help but think that, behind the scenes, someone from the Heisman committee contacted one of Bush's people and gave him the option of forfeiting the award before they formally started the process of stripping him of the award.

No proof of this, just my gut feeling. I'm just glad it's over and done with.

posted by cjets at 06:39 PM on September 14

"You can't fire me! I quit!"

I'm with you on that. I wouldn't be suprised if it was recommended by the Heisman Committee that he resign the trophy. It would help Reggie save face a little rather than having the trophy stripped. Apparently by the comments above, some of you are impressed that he stepped up and did the right thing.

I'll be semi impressed if he comes clean that he did indeed take improper benefits. The statement that Bush put out today is bullshit. When your caught cheating, then you make apologies and gestures of regret makes it seem like you have had the attitude the entire time of "its not cheating if you don't get caught".

You can't take away the memories he made in his Heisman run and his championship. I hope that the trophy stays vacant at this point. If you give Vince the trophy that he never won, then you give the BCS Nat'l Championship to Oklahoma University.

posted by sgtcookzane at 06:40 PM on September 14

It would help Reggie save face a little rather than having the trophy stripped.

I think it helps the Heisman organization save face as well, by not having to ask for it back.

If you give Vince the trophy that he never won, then you give the BCS Nat'l Championship to Oklahoma University.

55-19. Even if it was against a pro team, not just a team in violation of some rules, that number means something. I think Auburn or Utah would be more deserving if they were going to re-award the championship.

posted by graymatters at 07:03 PM on September 14

So did you honestly think the Heisman Committee would have let him keep the trophy? You were leading the charge in favor of it being "taken away."

I don't know what the Heisman folks were going to do. I hoped they would remove his trophy, but they've never done that before. Until they did it, there was always a chance they would find some other response to his ineligibility.

Look at the last line of his statement. "These are gifts that can't be taken away."

He's referring to the "support and love of so many." If Bush wanted to thumb his nose at the Heisman committee and his critics, he would have done that. Instead, he has attempted to shut down this issue with a measure of class.

Since the Saints don't need the distraction, it was probably a good move on his part to get beyond this controversy.

posted by rcade at 07:07 PM on September 14

55-19

2,541-Total Votes to Reggie Bush-784 1st place votes 1608-Total Votes to Vince Young-79 1st place votes

I think those numbers mean something also gray. I see your point on Auburn or Utah getting the trophy, but this is the exact reason why you don't give teams or players awards or a trophy that didn't outright deserve. There would be points and reasons to give the championship to OU and the same as Auburn. We'll never know if Auburn could have put up a better fight than OU. So you can't justify giving the crystall ball to either school. If Bush doesn't play that year, who is to say that Matt Leinart doesn't take the trophy in a landslide vote. Too many variables to start giving hardware away as we are discussing.

posted by sgtcookzane at 07:31 PM on September 14

Too many variables to start giving hardware away as we are discussing.

Agreed. You can talk about, but you cannot relive, the past.

posted by graymatters at 07:37 PM on September 14

No way you can give the award to the second place finisher at this point. Had Bush been declared ineligible just days after being awarded the trophy, maybe, but not now. If, for some reason, they are hell bent on awarding the trophy to someone, then take another vote.

As to Bush sticking it to the man, don't think that was his motivation, he just took the best of the two, maybe three, possible outcomes. It was doubtful that he was going to be able to keep the award, and it would have been tainted even if he did retain it. So, better to give it back (quit) than to have it taken away (fired). I just don't see a sticking it to the man in that . The committee is probably over-joyed that Bush gave it back, they now don't have to make a ruling that almost certainly would have made them look like bad guys to some.

posted by dviking at 09:03 PM on September 14

I'm willing to imagine Bush looking at the thing and thinking it's a reminder of, as he said, the mistakes he made. He's older and has a better understanding of things, and he isn't so self-centered and stubborn that he needs to put up a fight. (Compare this behavior with Pete Rose's which we've talked about a bit lately.)

It's not like he's presenting a powerpoint of his misdeeds, but it's a hell of a lot manlier than I, for one, imagined he would be about it.

As for the alleged PR value of setting up a foundation for educating athletes: big whoop. The real value is more important. Maybe it'll save some kid, his family, and a university the humiliation he brought on himself.

posted by Uncle Toby at 09:12 PM on September 14

Good for Reggie. He's taking the high road and disarming the controversy, whilst satisfying the old men at the Downtown Athletic Club. Well done.

Oh, if only Lebron had such aplomb.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:15 PM on September 14

Here's another take on it all...

posted by Goyoucolts at 11:10 PM on September 14

He's older and has a better understanding of things, and he isn't so self-centered and stubborn that he needs to put up a fight.

He also has a career that isn't defined by his college years. Hypothetically, if it's Troy Smith or Jason White (or even Matt Leinart) does the same thing happen? I suppose it's moot, because Bush and his family got the red carpet treatment on the assumption that he was headed to the upper echelons of the NFL.

As for the foundation thing? Thinking what I do of the NCAA's bullshit amateurism, I'd be more satisfied to see a bunch of pros come out together and dish on the systematic two-facedness of the enterprise than any investment in seminars on when to say no to those naughty, naughty agents who are promising you a contract even bigger than Reggie's.

posted by etagloh at 11:58 PM on September 14

I think this is dumb. The Heisman is not about morality. It is not a civic reward or a confirmation that someone is a moral person. It is based purely on performance and leadership on the field. Although no one can justify Bush's prior misdeeds, I hate how he has to fall on the sword for everyone now . . . I mean, I am sure Bush is the ONLY Heisman winner who has taken $ under the table. In my humble opinion, if you really think that the awarded was untainted until Bush you live in a pretty idealistic world. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, what exactly is the Heisman award awarding? It seems clear from the definition it is awarding on the field performance, so I think he should keep it.

Basically, I agree with this take.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:07 AM on September 15

The Heisman is not about morality. It is not a civic reward or a confirmation that someone is a moral person.

From the official mission statement:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
Note the "with integrity" there. So clearly, there's a moral weighting to it that doesn't necessarily permeate less storied awards. Perhaps it's my outsider's perspective on American college sports, but I see all sorts of little morality plays take place throughout the season, and never more so than in the run-up and awarding of the Heisman. It originated in a private members' club, and the spirit of "clubbability" still exists in the presentation.


That Posnanski piece is on the mark, especially when it says that the Heisman represents "a wink-wink, nudge-nudge world, perfect for the fantasy that is college football."

posted by etagloh at 02:00 AM on September 15

If you give Vince the trophy that he never won, then you give the BCS Nat'l Championship to Oklahoma University.

Those two incidents occurred in different years, and if they do strip USC of the 2004 National Championship, they should vacate that championship if they vacate the 2005 Heisman.

Vince Young's performance in 2005 season, (including a win over USC in the Rose Bowl) was much more deserving of the Heisman, than was OU's claim to a national championship after their 55-19 dismantling by USC in 2004.

And lets not forget that the Auburn strength of schedule that year was only 60th in the country, the biggest flaws in their resume being a non conference schedule of Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech and The Citadel.

Undefeated Boise State's SOS was 67th.

posted by mjkredliner at 07:43 AM on September 15

It is based purely on performance and leadership on the field.

That's your take on it, but the Heisman has stated guidelines that include the requirement the player be eligible. Faced with the first winner who was declared ineligible, they had to choose whether to live up to their own rules.

posted by rcade at 08:08 AM on September 15

I wonder how many times "integrity" was taken into account when Heisman voters filled out their ballots over the last 75 years. Whether it's part of the official mission statement of the Heisman Trust or not, it isn't based in reality to think most of those voters are taking moral issues into account when they pull the lever.

posted by Ricardo at 08:18 AM on September 15

Had Bush been declared ineligible just days after being awarded the trophy, maybe, but not now.

What are the odds a player would be declared ineligible that quickly? The NCAA investigates serious infractions for years. If they did otherwise, the fairness of their judgment would be called into question.

posted by rcade at 08:25 AM on September 15

Dez Bryant was ruled ineligible very quickly.

posted by bperk at 10:26 AM on September 15

Whether it's part of the official mission statement of the Heisman Trust or not, it isn't based in reality to think most of those voters are taking moral issues into account when they pull the lever.

It depends how you define "moral", and I think Posnanski's right to suggest that the Heisman tends to support a romantic view of the college game, "where leadership trumps talent and heart trumps a great arm and the most outstanding player isn't necessary the best player." White and Tebow didn't win the Walter Camp in their Heisman years, and that divergence points to the different mentality behind the two awards.

posted by etagloh at 11:04 AM on September 15

Ricardo hit the nail on the head. Who is going to do all the necessary moral hair-splitting to determine the correct level of integrity/morality requisite to win the award? If they could articulate such a measure, & apply it consistently (I suspect both are impossible), then I could buy-in, but at this point this is just pandering to false outrage. I can't prove this, but my opinion is that most hate how all college sports has degenerated into smarminess 99% of the time, & every once in a while we need the NCAA (and media outlets) to present us with a sacrificial lamb we can take all that out on. Thanks Reggie!

Let me reiterate I'm not a Bush fan, but am against the application of some ethereal pseudo-morality on college sports. If everyone (including the NCAA) were serious about cleaning up sports played by "student-athletes" a complete rethink of the system would need to ensue. I think that is (a) too honest and (b) too much work for most, so let's just nail Reggie Bush to the wall. It's hypocritical.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:51 PM on September 15

Good lord some of you folks are making this complicated. Bush was declared ineligible. The award states the player must be eligible. Why is it necessary to indict all of college sports simply to take the Heisman away from a player who didn't meet a clear, inarguable criteria?

posted by rcade at 04:01 PM on September 15

etagloh, this quote

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

seems to refer to his play on the field. If you expand it to the before/after, you open up a whole can of worms regarding how far to dig into someone's past, what areas of their life are valid for consideration, etc. It is a token line thrown in there, but as Posnanski and Ricardo point out, it plays no role into making the decision. Otherwise, wouldn't the committee have looked very carefully into Bush (and every candidate's) recruitment & prior lifestyle before awarding it?

Sorry to sound combative on this thread, but the selectivity of our outrage regarding college athletics frustrates me. The whole system is flawed, but the only one getting punished (in my perception at least) is Reggie Bush. That to me is pretty goofed up.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:01 PM on September 15

Totally agreed with you on selective outrage, but I do think that there's a "moral" element, however vague and inconsistent, to the Heisman. You're invoking Posnanski while overlooking his line that "leadership trumps talent and heart trumps a great arm" when it comes to the decision, so maybe we're just coming at it from different directions. I call it a moral undercurrent, you might say that there's an implicit character call: they get all the previous winners on stage, and the winner is deemed worthy of joining that club of individuals. It doesn't work the same as an MVP award.

I've compared top-level college football and basketball in the US to professional road cycling. As a spectacle, it's fantastic: it has more devout loyalties and more intense rivalries than its professional equivalent. It is an deep-seated part of American sporting culture that is largely hidden from view to those outside the US, and yet it's one that foreign lovers of sport tend to appreciate as soon as they watch it, because it displays a passion they already know.

Institutionally, though, it's compromised.

Why is it necessary to indict all of college sports simply to take the Heisman away from a player who didn't meet a clear, inarguable criteria?

Because the NCAA's standard M.O. is to make sporadic examples of egregious offenders and thereby establish an acceptable level of non-compliance in order to keep the wheels greased for the pros.

posted by etagloh at 04:55 PM on September 15

Why is it necessary to indict all of college sports simply to take the Heisman away from a player who didn't meet a clear, inarguable criteria?

Because I think the criteria he didn't meet (that which cost him his eligibility) is so hypocritical, it's ridiculous.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:02 PM on September 15

I thinks its hypocritical that I can't go 85 on the highway, but the police can in non-emergencies. Its called life.

posted by sgtcookzane at 11:24 PM on September 15

That stuff about Bush showing kids how to avoid making the same mistakes? That may be tricky, since he now says he hasn't admitted any wrongdoing.

posted by rcade at 09:25 PM on September 16

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