Four years ago, days before the 2006 draft, reports emerged that presumptive No. 1 overall pick Reggie Bush’s family had been living rent-free in a house owned by a man who had hoped to represent Bush. The story quickly grew tree-trunk sized legs, the Texans got cold feet, the Saints took Bush, and the next Gale Sayers became one of the most overhyped and overpaid average players of all time.
Since then, the story has languished but never died, thanks to a lawsuit filed by one of the two men who claim that a bunch of money and other stuff of value had been given to Bush and/or his family. (Bush settled with the other man, Michael Michaels.) Now, according to the Los Angeles Daily News and other media outlets, Bush finally will be placed under oath and questioned about the situation.
On Tuesday, Bush was ordered by a judge to submit to a deposition next week, on April 23. The forced testimony is significant not because it gives Lloyd Lake a chance to prove his case but because it would give the NCAA a clearer picture of whether Bush lost his amateur status while still playing college football — which could result in penalties for the USC football program and, more importantly from Bush’s perspective, could cause the Downtown Athletic Club to request that Bush place his Heisman Trophy in a large box, ensconce it in Styrofoam peanuts, and mail it to the Nashville address of a guy who likes to party with his shirt off.
As a practical matter, Bush could decide to avoid the deposition by spending some of the $8 million in base salary he’ll earn in 2010 on finally buying peace from Lake. Ultimately, Bush will need to ask himself how much it means to keep the Heisman Trophy — and to avoid converting the vague public sense that he was being paid while in college into a full-blown acknowledgment that he was playing “pro football” long before September 2006.
Even then, avoiding the oath to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you Favre” doesn’t guarantee that Reggie will be in the clear. The NCAA has investigated the case without Bush’s cooperation, and it has spoken at length with Lloyd Lake. Bush could be found retroactively ineligible even if he never says a single word about the situation.