All I am asking for is one concession – just one. It’s not on my behalf, but for Reggie Bush, and athletes like him who just couldn’t afford to say no.
On Thursday, the folks at Yahoo! released a story on the up and coming superstar about his alleged acceptance of “improper benefits” from various companies.
Of course Bush vehemently denies the accusations, but let’s just say for a second that he indulged in the forbidden fruit that come in the form of illegal gifts.
Put yourself in this scenario. Imagine that you are college football’s golden child.
Just like at most schools, most fans that file in the stands have a hidden agenda to come watch you play, to see if you are really what the magazines and sportscasters say you are. And once they see you average a little over 10 yards per carry
as Bush did, they figure out who you really are.And then your agent Mike Ornstein, says you and your family could benefit form a few extra perks that range from luxury hotel stays to makeovers for your mother to custom-made suits for your father.
Let’s not even mention 1,500 in dead presidents that could line of your pocket just for good measure.
As a premier student athlete, you know your payday is coming soon, but you want your family to be able to enjoy you ride to the top. Besides, your prestigious college will not give you compensation beyond a scholarship. So what do you do?
Chances are, you don’t say no.
While Reggie Bush is on the hot seat at the moment, this isn’t a new-fangled scenario. Three years ago, Lebron “King” James was lambasted for accepting a few jerseys and acquiring a suspiciously new Hummer from his mother.
A few years ago members from the University of Michigan’s Fab Five were on a media skewer for accepting money from boosters.
All these athletes simply could not say no. Maybe because it just didn’t make sense to do so.
The heads of New Era Sports and Entertainment, Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake, were reported to have purchased and modified a car on Bush’s behalf in addition to providing rent-free stay in Michaels’ $757,500 loft.
That sure beats the team bus ride and a stay diminutive dorm room that comes with college life.
As a student athlete, it must be difficult to watch the stands fill up with fans wearing your jersey that you can’t receive any money from. To see yourself on Sportscenter countless Saturdays and not be able to see the fruits of labor beyond a scholarship may be a little tough. To patiently wait for a payday to come is easier said than done.
So like many of us, and many college superstars before him, Bush had a little problem saying no.
Bush denied any wrongdoing in an interview saying, “Like I said from day one, once the smoke clears, everybody will see we did nothing wrong. That’s it.”
But unfortunately, Reggie, that won’t be it. You’ll be added to a long list of student athletes who couldn’t turn their backs on the people waving perks in your face.
Even if you are exonerated when the smoke clears, the perception will still linger. And not even the NFL’s next great running back can escape that stigma.
Which is why I am asking for a pardon on Mr. Bush’s behalf. He had a problem saying no to money. Don’t we all? He electrified USC fans, and is well on his way to giving NFL fans a similar show. So I ask for a pardon. Not because he didn’t say no, but because not many of us can.
Akeem Anderson is a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org