Leave Reggie Alone

In case you’re late to the party, let me give you a little bit of background information about Reggie Bush and why I’m writing about him for this blog.

Bush is currently a running back for the reigning Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Back in 2006, he was drafted #2 overall in the inaugural NFL draft. Since then, he has been one of the Saints’ key players in achieving their current success.

Back in college is where the drama starts to unfold. Bush played for the University of Southern California Trojans, establishing himself as one of the best to ever step on the college gridiron.

Bush set records, won awards, and helped the Trojans win a national title in 2005. Among his accolades was the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious individual award given to the best college football player for that year.

In Dec. of 2004, Bush and his family allegedly received monetary gifts from sports agent Lloyd Lake and his partner Michael Michaels. This relationship continued for the rest of his college career.

In 2007, Lake sued the Bush family for not repaying their debts back. Upon this, an NCAA investigation of the matter ensued. Fast forward to today. The NCAA has slapped both USC and Reggie Bush with major sanctions due to their violations.

Among the many, USC has been stripped of two wins in 2004 and all of its 2005 season. The notable thing about 2004 is that it includes the National Championship win over the beloved Oklahoma Sooners.

USC is now removing every single artifact that involves and even alludes to Reggie Bush. To add insult to injury, they even gave back their copy of his Heisman trophy.

Recently the Heisman Trust, the people who give out the award, looked into actually stripping Bush of the Heisman altogether, vacating a recipient for that year. Reggie decided to take matters in to his own hands and actually forfeited it himself to avoid further distraction.

And this is what brings me to write about this very issue. Now ESPN and every other sports media outlet are making this out to be some sort travesty that could be called “Reggiegate.”

Turn on the TV, and you’ll probably see all of the coverage Bush is receiving lately. Now you’d expect that, right? A former college superstar gave up the most coveted award in the sport, the first ever to do so.

But the fact that it came to this is what gets me. He is now labeled as a “cheater” and everyone, including his alma mater, is disowning him and his achievements that brought in fans, money, and USC back to prominence.

Just the other day, on the local “Sports Animal” radio show on 98.1, the guys went as far as to compare this situation with that of Roger Clemens, a man who took steroids and cheated the game of baseball, and Tiger Woods who cheated on his wife with multiple porn stars.

A 19-year-old kid (at the time) in college, who took gifts of money that led to bettering his parents, is compared to those two?

Let’s get real here. If put in his shoes, odds are most people would do the same without any qualms. Yet he is now a ghost in the trophy cases and hallways of USC.

One thing that was done partially correctly was punishing the actual college. USC is on two years of probation, which disallows them going to a bowl of any kind during that period. In addition, 30 scholarships have been taken away.

But this fiasco was five years ago. Why are the kids and new coaching staff being punished for what former Head Coach Pete Carroll and his staff allowed to happen five years ago, during the now “forgotten” years?

There isn’t a good explanation.

Take money away from Pat Haden, the athletic director of USC. Take money away from Carroll, and disown them as they’re doing to Bush, and it might make a little sense.

Carroll fled the scene, becoming the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks this year. Their AD, Haden, is still in his position, criticizing everyone else instead of shouldering the blame. These two took a step back, acting as if this never happened. But they got caught and hid in the shadows that is Bush’s controversy.

The fact that Reggie Bush is the scapegoat being portrayed as the next formerly-beloved-superstar-turned-evil just isn’t right.

Go for those at the top, who were well aware of the situation regarding Bush. Don’t take advantage of the kid who made a decision that 90 percent of us would have also made. I think he’s gone through more enough the past few years.

Just leave Reggie alone.

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