The moral standard bearers would love to have us believe that their actions are always steered by the desire to do right. That may be the case but the reality is that no one’s perfect, not even those morality watchdogs. So, when the famous among us step out of line, the standard bearers get giddy like school children and proceed to make a concert out of them. Ultimately, it’s society’s way of sending a message to others. We punish them for what others might do. Case in point: The Heisman Trust vs. Reggie Bush.
Bush was stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy after word came to light that he had accepted money and such while playing at USC. This is clearly a violation of the NCAA code. As the allegations mounted, USC quickly returned its copy of the Heisman trophy. Bush was also forced to forfeit his copy of the trophy along with this 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.”
Strangely, the Heisman Trophy Trust decided to leave the 2005 award vacant. They decided that there was no Heisman winner in 2005. It’s the first time the award has been left vacant.
Here’s their statement:
“We are very appreciative of the respect Reggie Bush demonstrated for the Heisman trust, the whole Heisman fraternity, and the continuing legacy of the trophy in his public statement issued,” the statement said. “It was a difficult decision to return the Heisman Trophy and he exhibited great character in acknowledging his mistakes and accepting the consequences.”
Mistakes and consequences. Haven’t we all been there? Maybe I’m naive, but I find it hard to believe that Reggie Bush is the only college player to have ever accepted money illegally. He can’t be. He’s just the first to get caught red handed. If the Heisman Trust went back and scrutinized the character of every winner, I guarantee they’ll end up building a bigger room to store forfeited trophies.
Sure, the Heisman is an unbelievably prestigious award. But can the Trust confidently vouch for all every winner’s character? No one is perfect and neither are the Heisman winners. O.J. Simpson still has a Heisman for fuck’s sake.
The question the Trust should be asking is this: Who was the best college player in 2005? Hands down, Reggie Bush. Anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot. Heisman runner-up Vince Young wouldn’t have accepted the trophy had the Trust awarded it to him. It just wouldn’t seem right. He shouldn’t get it if he wasn’t the best player in 2005.
And if you can’t change that, then you shouldn’t change the outcome of those votes. Bush ran those yards, won those games. You can’t wipe it away with a press statement. Period.
The Trust decided that it’s too late to attempt a re-vote. Bullshit. They turned down the idea of re-vote because they realized that Reggie Bush would win it all over again, just as Brian Cushing was able to retain his Defensive Rookie of the Year award after a revote. And that’s after the judges found out that Cushing was caught using PEDs, which clearly gave him unfair advantage on the field. Bush’s actions didn’t give him an unfair advantage on the field, so he deserves to keep the award.
Besides, you can’t tell me that the USC coaches didn’t notice what was going on and kept mum. A guy comes to school with his clothes in a trash bag and next thing you know he’s driving a flashy car and living in a flamboyant house. Yet no one wondered what was going on?
If the Heisman Trust is wondering what to do with the trophy, they should go ahead and mail it to me. I’d love to hang it up next to my Texas Social Media award, which I still intend to keep even if the judges later find out that I accepted a slice of cheesecake from the organizers.