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Monday, May 20, 2024

Reggie Bush Finally Gets His Heisman Back

  • He was stripped of his honor after accepting lavish gifts during his college career.
  • In the current era of NIL, Bush and other former Heisman winners have been advocating to get his trophy reinstated.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fourteen years after Reggie Bush gave up his Heisman from his legendary 2005 season, the Heisman Trophy Trust is giving it back, the organization said Wednesday.

Bush faced heavy scrutiny while USC was slapped with intense sanctions by the NCAA after it learned that the running back had accepted special treatment and perks from sports marketers during his college career, including hotels, a home for his family, and a limousine and suit for the Heisman ceremony.

Since athletes have been able to compensate on their name, image, and likeness, athletes and fans have clamored for Bush to get his Heisman back. Bush filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in August, after which the athletics body filed a motion to dismiss. The argument came down to whether the benefits were “pay-for-play”; Bush argued that he’d never been accused of “pay-for-play,” while the NCAA argued that was absolutely the case. Former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel announced in March he would skip all future award ceremonies until Bush got his trophy back, and other former winners Matt Leinart (Bush’s former teammate) and Tim Brown have also backed his claim.

“We considered the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years in deciding that now is the right time to reinstate the trophy for Reggie,” Heisman Trophy Trust president Michael Comerford said. “We are so happy to welcome him back.”

Back in the Heisman Trust’s good graces, Bush and USC are set to get their copies of the trophy returned, and he can return to all future ceremonies.

“Personally, I’m thrilled to reunite with my fellow Heisman winners and be a part of the storied legacy of the Heisman Trophy, and I’m honored to return to the Heisman family,” Bush said in a statement to ESPN. “I also look forward to working together with the Heisman Trust to advance the values and mission of the organization.”

In his three seasons at USC, Bush averaged 8.5 yards per touch from scrimmage and scored 42 touchdowns. During his Heisman-winning campaign, he rushed for 1,740 yards.

USC faced severe punishments from the NCAA for Bush’s off-the-field benefits, including disassociating with the player for a decade, being stripped of its 2004 BCS national championship title, getting a two-year ban from playing in bowl games, and losing 30 scholarships over three years.

Bush played 11 seasons in the NFL and won one Super Bowl title with New Orleans. He enjoyed a four-year stint as a college football analyst for Fox Sports ending in 2023. Earlier this month, Bush announced the launch of his own production company alongside his wife.

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