New Orleans Saints running back (and former USC Trojan) Reggie Bush issued a statement on Sept. 14 saying he was forfeiting the 2005 Heisman Trophy. Bush’s decision comes in the wake of the NCAA levying heavy sanctions on USC relating to improper benefits received by he and former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo.
The allegations were first brought to light by Yahoo! Sports in 2006, after Bush was drafted by the Saints. Sanctions were put on USC this summer and new athletic director Pat Haden returned the school’s copy of Bush’s trophy.
I’ve said many times that I thought Bush should have come forward regarding the allegations. Bush isn’t the first and won’t be the last college athlete to accept money, etc. He brought shame to USC and, essentially, his name. But, many sports media pundits are saying that the Sept. 14 statement is weak because Bush didn’t say, “I’m Sorry.” So what?
He doesn’t have to get on his knees, cry, and beg for forgiveness. Do we need a Jimmy Swaggart moment? Absolutely not. How many people have we heard say I’m sorry and not really mean it?
I felt this paragraph in Bush’s statement was key:
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.
Right now, to me, his statement, shows remorse and a willingness to repair the damage that has been put on USC, the Heisman Trust, and himself. It’s up to Bush to now stand behind these words. If he doesn’t stand behind his statement with solid actions, Bush will be viewed as a fraud.
I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.