Leinart: USC sanctions don't affect past

Pete Carroll isn't the only NFC West inhabitant defending USC's honor following NCAA sanctions against the football program.

Like Carroll, the former USC coach in his first season with the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart has a legacy to uphold. As Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out, the 2005 BCS trophy Leinart helped win no longer sits on display at USC's Heritage Hall.

"People can say whatever they want but we still played every game the way we had to, we beat almost every team we played and, to me, no one will ever be able to take that away," Leinart told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I've talked to a lot of people I played with on those teams and we all say the same thing. Everyone who knows football knows we won those games and we won the title."

Leinart said he remains close with former USC teammate Reggie Bush, whose alleged actions brought about the sanctions. Leinart said the two speak to one another "all the time" and Bush recently attended Leinart's bowling event.

Current NFC West players from USC include Leinart, Dominique Byrd and Deuce Lutui of the Cardinals, Chilo Rachal and Taylor Mays of the San Francisco 49ers and eight players from the Seattle Seahawks: Josh Pinkard, Kevin Ellison, Lofa Tatupu, Lawrence Jackson, Jeff Byers, Anthony McCoy, Mike Williams and Ryan Powdrell. The St. Louis Rams are the only team in the division and one of six in the NFL without a player from USC. Byrd and LaJuan Ramsey were the former USC players on the Rams' roster most recently.