If Reggie Bush has found religion, it took a long and winding road to get to the confessional.
Five years long, winding through college, the pros and an NCAA investigation that continued to shame him. Religion? Maybe, a little, but what Reggie Bush truly practiced Tuesday in forfeiting his 2005 Heisman Trophy was classic damage control.
Controlling damage to his reputation. Translation: endorsements. Bush had become such a tragic figure that it was wearing on his member-in-good-standing status as a Kardashian-dating, part-time playing, Super Bowl-ring wearing celebutant.
Hate to simplify it, but these types things are never that complicated. It looked like the Heisman Trust was ready to vote Tuesday on vacating Bush's 2005 trophy. Bush (or his handlers) stepped in and changed the verb from "stripped" of the trophy to "forfeit" the Heisman. It projects a sense of totality, closure and, at some level, elicits sympathy.
Especially when you throw in that the decision was "heart-breaking."
Forfeiting means that some Bush (or an assistant) will have to pack up the hardware and mail it back to New York. The ultimate shame. Bush also threw us off the scent by saying he wants to establish "an educational program which will assist student-athletes and their families avoid some of the mistakes that I made."
You know, the kinds of mistakes college football players make every day ...
--Arranging for their parents to get a free house.
--Taking close to half a million in extra benefits from shady "marketers".
--Denying any of it ever happened saying, "the truth will come out."
--When the truth does come out, promise to help the school with its appeal of massive NCAA penalties.
--Tainting a national championship while disgracing your school and teammates.
You know, those type of mistakes.
Had Bush let this drag on, he would have begun to be defined by it, especially by the folks who are always looking for jocks to hawk their products. I know, I know if Kobe Bryant can still endorse sneakers after that little dust-up in Colorado, then why worry?
There is no easy answer. In our sports society, reps can always be rehabbed. Why Bush's still needs work after Tuesday is summarized by a simple remaining question.
After five years, an NCAA investigation and a Heisman forfeiture, where, exactly, is the apology?