On Wednesday, Saints running back Reggie Bush ran circles around the media the way he used to confound defensive backs from outmanned Pac-10 schools and/or Fresno State.
Regarding the 2005 Heisman Trophy, he wouldn’t say whether he has met with the members of the Heisman Trophy Trust (he reportedly has), and he cited the Trust’s statement that the Yahoo! Sports report regarding the eventual rescission of his award was inaccurate (we think the report was accurate). More importantly, Bush continues to act as if he has no control over the process.
“At this point it’s kind of out of my hands,” he said, per the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
But it’s not. He can still determine the outcome. He supposedly told USC A.D. Pat Haden that Bush would give back the Heisman “if he could.” But he can. And Tony Dungy of NBC’s Football Night in America thinks he should.
“If I’m Reggie Bush, I’d give back the trophy,” Dungy told Dan Patrick on Friday. But Dungy added a caveat. Dungy says he’d also say, “‘You know what? I was the best player in college football. You know that and I know that. Regardless of what may or may not have happened off the field, I was the best player. So, here, you take the trophy but you won’t take the memories.”
Dungy’s right. But that same attitude applies to anyone who has titles or wins or awards stripped after the fact by a governing body that moves more slowly than molasses on a cold day. The memories always will remain, however tarnished they may be.
The bigger question is whether Bush really should give it back. Setting aside the reality that college football players deserve far more compensation for the risks they take and the sacrifices they make than “an education,” the NCAA has deemed that Bush wasn’t eligible to play college football in the year he won the award as the best college football player. So the Heisman Trophy has to be taken back — and he could score some major points with the fans and the media by acknowledging that he took money from prospective agents, that he didn’t intend to pay back the prospective agents from whom he took money and then didn’t hire, that his failure to settle their legal claims opened up a can of worms that resulted in major sanctions being imposed against USC, and that the right thing to do is give back the trophy.
Perhaps Reggie believes he can’t give back the trophy because he realizes that, by doing so, he’d essentially be admitting to single-handedly bringing the USC football program to its knees, all because of greed and stubbornness.