Prying the Heisman from my cold, dead hands

The Heisman Trust announced on Wednesday that the 2005 Stiff Arm Trophy will be vacated. The decision leaves the award empty for that particular college football season, and denies Vince Young  the Suzette Charles path to obtain the valued hardware.

The announcement came one day after Reggie Bush returned the merchandise, which also signified the first admission by the former Trojan of his errant ways. In a statement obviously written by a public relations consultant, Bush acknowledged his former teammates for their assistance in his gaining the award, then spoke of mistakes and lessons learned, yadda yadda, and so on, and so forth.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve observed the reaction of USC fans, students, and alumni.  It’s mixed, of course, with responses ranging from, “We’ll always love you Reg, and returning the Heisman was a classy move,” —to the more impolite, “Fuck Reggie Bush for what he did to our program”.

Some feel Bush owes them an apology, but I’m not one of them. An “I’m sorry” does nothing to change the current state of the USC program. There’s no need to apologize for the performances that lifted me from my seat on college football Saturdays. Apologize to the current coaching staff and players now crippled by his actions.  Apologize to the university’s powers-that-be for the embarrassment that now accompanies the program’s name.  But as for myself, I was entertained with each ticket purchase and every televised game.  And for that, no apology is necessary.

All I’ve ever wanted from Reggie Bush was an admission to his wrongs, and I received that yesterday. Not that he was the only college player to ever accept improper benefits, or the only Heisman winner to do so, but he was the one caught with a hand in the cookie jar. His continuous denial and repetitive statement of “defending himself against the allegations” grew irritating, especially with the proof laid on the table and USC bearing the brunt of the consequences.  Four years and 9 months later, there’s an admission.  Now I can move on.

For those of you viewing Reggie’s Heisman return as a show of class, I’m not among you. Looking at a timeline of events, the return of the trophy appeared to be more of an involuntary act in a last ditch effort to stave off shame. Surrendering the award just hours before the Heisman Trust was scheduled to vote and rule on the issue strikes me as being less coincidental and more consequential.  In one way or another, Bush’s reign as the 2005 winner was coming to an end.

But more importantly, a dark shadow is now cast upon the trophy itself. The “most prestigious award in all of sports” was just returned for store credit. The Stiff-Armer was just tossed in the recycle bin, for lack of Craigslist buyers or eBay bidders outside of Vince Young. A member of college football’s elite society has removed himself from the fraternity. Where is the pride? Where is the honor?  Where are the words “pry it from my cold, dead hands?”

For at least 10 years now, the Heisman has been criticized as becoming just another college football award. Today it is exactly that. Sure, come December, another group will assemble in New York, and one among them will give a tear filled acceptance speech. But let’s face it, with most positions excluded from consideration, team rankings and popularity becoming an unwritten prerequisite, and some of the most recent winners dwelling in NFL mediocrity, the statue has lost its luster. And now to make matters worse, we have the unprecedented forfeiture of an award that was never to be rejected.

USC settled its matter, by stripping the 2005 Heisman Trophy and any other reminders of Reggie Bush from the program’s history. The media then applied the pressure to the Heisman Trust to do the same. Succumbing to the masses, they ruled in error. For the prestige, honor, and significance of the Heisman Trophy, it would have been more advantageous for the committee to do nothing at all.

Fight On!

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~ by Anthony on September 15, 2010.

One Response to “Prying the Heisman from my cold, dead hands”

  1. Eloquent as usual…perfectly stated!

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