When Reggie Bush instantly decided that he was going to give up his Heisman Trophy, within a matter of minutes, sports most legendary award had been set back 200 years. And now history may be in place to repeat itself with the allegations looming over Heisman frontrunner Cam Newton of Auburn.
Bush decided when he gave up his trophy that it wasn’t a matter of assuming he was guilty. However, when an individual can let go of such a cherished artifact so easily it changed the significance of the award forever.
The Heisman Trophy has always been thought of the most prestigious award in sports. Only an elite select few make it into this category. A freshman has never won the award, and up until a few years ago, a sophomore had never won the award.
Virtually, most players have a two-year window to compete with every single collegiate athlete in the country to stand out amongst voters as the premier number one. This made the award so special because it was so hard to obtain. Reggie Bush took away that uniqueness in a matter of minutes when he decided he was going to vacate the prized possession.
The Heisman Trophy is an award thought of as so attached to the athlete that it would stand next to an individual’s name beyond the grave. There was no way anyone would ever not keep or even lose their Heisman.
Even OJ Simpson managed to keep claim to his Heisman throughout all his legal issues. That all changed when Reggie Bush voluntarily vacated the award. All meaning had been lost with those actions within a matter of minutes.
1991 Heisman winner Desmond Howard said that he never thought Reggie would have made that decision and did not think it would ever come to this and that it is a sad day for college football. Desmond knows it’s a sad day because not only does it affect Reggie, but also it affects the entire Heisman Trophy fraternity and the credibility of the trophy.
An award once thought to be more than immeasurable and an exclusive Heisman community will never be the same—within a matter of minutes the award can be shipped back in a box to the Heisman Trust and a recipients name can be scratched off.
Reggie Bush proves that college is no more than a stepping-stone for players who make it to play professional football in the NFL. A small time period of an athletes lifetime; where at the time, it feels larger than life, but five years down the line, the current landscape is much more important than a few good years in college.
Would Reggie have done the same and just sacrificed this award if this were 2006 and it was his rookie season. I highly doubt he would have taken that path because of his fresh college memories of him skipping down the field after Matt Leinart served up a 20-yard pass and somersaulting into the endzone.
Five years later. Forgotten and gone in a matter of minutes.
This year the Heisman Trophy does not seem to have the appeal it once did and I do not know if it will ever recover from this setback. It doesn’t matter if it’s Cameron Newton or Denard Robinson or even LeMichael James who wins it—it can all be forfeited in a matter of minutes.
With Cameron Newton being investigated for reportedly having issues with his grades and academics during his playing days at the University of Florida, as well as him potentially having ties to an agent who sold him to the highest bidder only makes matters worse for the future of the trophy.
If Newton is the standout athlete and has the best numbers, the voters have no other choice than to give it to him as the investigation could clearly indicate that Cam is indeed not guilty.
However, if it shows up that Newton is guilty, than we could see another nightmare scenario for the tarnished legacy of the Heisman trophy. While Bush willfully vacated his trophy, Newton may not want to do the same. And vacating would only produce another hole on the Heisman wall
Now the Heisman Trust has the rotten apple of 2005 in which it will either read "No Winner," "Vacated," or "Reggie Bush—Vacated" in the history books. Could this happen again? Any way you put it, people will always look at 2005 as a dark period for the award.
People will ask what happened, and they will say he simply gave it up. It will stick out like a sore thumb on the Heisman wall and take away from the greatness of the other award recipients and pose questions such as who else may be next to have an "X" placed over their face.
Reggie gave up the trophy that's supposed to be engraved with an athlete beyond the grave and now Cameron Newton could be next. For these reasons, the Heisman Trophy is no longer the Heisman Trophy—it's just another trophy.