Ex-NFL Star Reggie Bush: 'It's Only Fair' That College Athletes Get Paid

August 16, 2018

By Carlo Versano

Reggie Bush, the former NFL running back and college superstar who forfeited his Heisman Trophy after he allegedly received payments while at USC, said college athletes should be paid.

Bush told Cheddar in an interview last month that college athletes are forced to juggle the full-time job of playing sports with a serious course load ー so "it's only fair" they get compensated. Most of those players "come from nothing," he said.

A two-time All-American in college, Bush led the Trojans to the 2004 BCS title and won the Heisman Trophy in 2005. He was drafted second overall in the 2006 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints before reports that he had received improper benefits while attending USC. Years after he won the Heisman, he decided to return the award after a report concluded in 2010 that two California-based marketing agents may have paid his family hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts. The NCAA also stripped USC of its championship.

Bush also said he supports guaranteed contracts for NFL players and better safety measures. He said he's hopeful that the NFL's latest policy changes to limit some types of violent hits will be a "good start."

But like many players, coaches, and fans, Bush is concerned new safety regulations may dampen some of the game's signature intensity.

"I made a living off of returning punts and kicks all throughout my career ー college, NFL. I know that's something that fans are excited about, the kick-off. Hopefully, they can keep that as in tact as possible," he said.

"We're modern-day gladiators. It's a brutal sport."

For full interview, click here.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Reggie Bush: Kick off, like you said, punt returns.

Reggie Bush: You know, those are some of the most exciting,

Reggie Bush: you know, parts of the game.

Reggie Bush: You know I made a living [OVERLAPPING]-

Brad Smith: You did.

Reggie Bush: Off of returning punts and kicks,

Reggie Bush: you know, all throughout my career.

Reggie Bush: High school, college, NFL.

Reggie Bush: So that was one of the things I

Reggie Bush: know fans are very excited about

Reggie Bush: of always been excited about

Reggie Bush: is the kickoff and punt returns.

Reggie Bush: So hopefully, they can keep that as intact as possible,

Reggie Bush: you know, without, you know, changing too much of it.

Reggie Bush: But again, you know,

Reggie Bush: you also have to think player safety first.

Brad Smith: In terms of fans,

Brad Smith: just to stay there for a second,

Brad Smith: it sounds like they're also

Brad Smith: encouraged by where they can watch games now.

Brad Smith: I mean we've seen really the matriculation,

Brad Smith: whether it's Twitter initially diving in

Brad Smith: and picking up Thursday Night Football streaming rights.

Brad Smith: Moving that into Amazon, and,

Brad Smith: you know, we're in the midst of Prime Day right now.

Brad Smith: So perhaps, if it's a sticky ecosys- ecosystem,

Brad Smith: then they'll continue watching on

Brad Smith: Amazon for Thursday Night Football.

Brad Smith: But as we're watching the broader trend of

Brad Smith: television viewership as a whole slip up a bit.

Brad Smith: What's it going to take for the NFL to retain a lot of

Brad Smith: those fans right now over the next five to 10 years.

Reggie Bush: Yeah. Well, it's funny you mentioned

Reggie Bush: that because I was just literally talking

Reggie Bush: about this yesterday with my mom.

Reggie Bush: It's just the way people watch content,

Reggie Bush: view content has changed.

Reggie Bush: Right. It's completely, uhm,

Reggie Bush: going towards phones, right,

Reggie Bush: towards, you know, mobile devices.

Reggie Bush: And, and, you know, people want

Reggie Bush: to cut out the commercials and

Reggie Bush: stuff like that and they want to go

Reggie Bush: straight to the good stuff., right?

Reggie Bush: And so, you know, the way we watch and

Reggie Bush: view content is, is significantly changed.

Reggie Bush: So adding, you know, social media,

Reggie Bush: avenues like Twitter and, you know,

Reggie Bush: Amazons and Netflixs and Instagrams,

Reggie Bush: I think that's only better for the game.

Reggie Bush: Right? Because it's only- you're only-

Reggie Bush: now you're allowing people to,

Reggie Bush: you know, watch the games in different avenues.

Reggie Bush: You don't have to just watch on a traditional TV anymore,

Reggie Bush: because unfortunately, you know,

Reggie Bush: my kids and their kids kids,

Reggie Bush: will, you know, they may not even

Reggie Bush: own a TV. You know what I mean.

Brad Smith: It's true.

Reggie Bush: We'll see how, we'll see how it happens.