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Saturday Sports: Reggie Bush gets Heisman Trophy back; Chicago's new football star

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Reggie Bush gets his Heisman back. NFL draft - the Bears' new quarterback already setting records. ESPN's Michele Steele joins us. Michele, thanks so much for being with us.

MICHELE STEELE: You bet, Scott.

SIMON: The Heisman Trust announced it's returning the Heisman Trophy which Reggie Bush won for USC in 2005, but he relinquished in 2010 when his school, USC, was sanctioned when it was revealed he and his family received several thousands of dollars and I believe a car. But as the Heisman Trust notes now, college athletics - I mean, what's wrong with that? It's completely different now. Is this justice - delayed justice?

STEELE: Yeah, several thousand dollars and a car - there'd be outrage now about how little Reggie Bush was getting if he was playing in 2024.

SIMON: Yes.

STEELE: I think the word finally was trending on social media, Scott, when this news broke that he'd finally be getting his Heisman back after this saga. This has been a long time coming. You know, the rule changes a few years ago do allow players to benefit from their fame. The game is worth billions of dollars. Reggie Bush is one of the most electrifying, if not the most electrifying college football players of all time.

And remember, he wasn't just deprived of his Heisman. USC was forced by the NCAA to essentially erase him from the program. They took down his jersey. They couldn't talk about him in videos. They couldn't use his image on campus.

SIMON: Right.

STEELE: They lost 30 scholarships. Their national title in '04 was vacated. This was a harsh, harsh penalty. He later would say that he felt like he died when he heard that players wouldn't be able to receive scholarships because of the situation he was involved in, Scott, which is perfectly fine today.

SIMON: Yeah. So does USC get their victories back? Do - did they get - anybody get a scholarship back? I mean, what are the implications?

STEELE: Yeah, you know, I looked it up. Penn State had their wins restored after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. It would seem illogical and unfair not to restore the 14 USC wins that were vacated. And I bet you, Scott, there's going to be a list of others - Rick Pitino, the Fab Five, Jim Boeheim in Syracuse - who could very well be making their cases to the NCAA that, hey, those rules violations - they're not violations anymore. Give me my wins back.

SIMON: NFL draft is three rounds down. Does everybody just intend to stop playing defense? I mean, everybody drafted so far is an offensive player.

STEELE: It might seem like it. The first 14 picks that first night were all offensive players. That's a record. I counted them up. Twenty-one of the first 32 picks in the first round were quarterbacks, wide receivers...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...Or offensive tackles. And the through line with all those positions, they all affect the pass. It's not like there aren't great defensive players out there. Some of them are going to be drafted today, certainly, as we head into these later rounds. But you got to score points, Scott. You can't keep up with the Patrick Mahomeses (ph) of the world unless you can put points up on the board.

SIMON: And to do that, the Chicago Bears drafted Caleb Williams first overall. And this is not to bring back the glory days of Rex Grossman. Caleb Williams, quarterback out of USC, and he's already setting records, isn't he?

STEELE: Well, Bears fans would love to see him set some passing records, but apparently, according to Fanatics - and they sell the jerseys - his merchandise set the record for draft night sales value in any sport, and that record was previously held for a whopping 10 days by the great Caitlin Clark. Her jersey sold out just about a week and a half ago, one of the few records that she doesn't have anymore. Williams, by the way, is switching his jersey number from 13 in college to 18 in Chicago.

SIMON: White Sox won last night. Boy, they're off to a historic start, aren't they?

STEELE: Historically bad, Scott, yes. Apparently, their four-game losing streak to start the year has been their shortest losing streak so far, believe it or not. They are in the hunt to beat the record of the 1962 Mets - 120 losses on the table. We'll see.

SIMON: There's distinction in that, too. Michele Steele of ESPN, thanks so much for being with us. Talk to you soon.

STEELE: Talk to you soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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