Former USC tailback Reggie Bush on Tuesday became the first athlete in the 75-year history of the Heisman Trophy to forfeit the award, bowing to an increasingly angry clamor from detractors.
After five years of staunch denials about wrongdoing, Bush acknowledged he made "mistakes" and talked about the "family" of Heisman winners in a statement posted on the Web site of the New Orleans Saints.
"Each individual carries the legacy of the award and each one is entrusted with its good name," Bush said. "It is for these reasons that I have made the decision to forfeit my title."
Bush came under pressure to return the famed bronze statue this summer after the NCAA deemed him retroactively ineligible for receiving cash and gifts from a pair of would-be agents while at USC.
Among a long list of sanctions, the NCAA placed USC on probation, banned the football team from bowl games for two seasons and stripped it of 30 scholarships over three years.
USC has appealed some of the penalties.