Bush responds to allegations of improper benefits

PARK CITY, Utah -- In his first public comments since the release of a book alleging he received improper benefits while at Southern California, Reggie Bush criticizes the sports marketing agent who made the allegations.

The New Orleans Saints running back declined to specifically discuss the book "Tarnished Heisman" or the allegations, which if proven, could result in the revocation of the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005. However, Bush expressed disdain for Lloyd Lake, financier of now defunct sports marketing company New Era Sports and Entertainment, who is suing to recoup $291,600 in cash and gifts that he claims he gave Bush and his parents during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

"It's cowardice," Bush told ESPN.com's Sam Alipour at the Sundance Film Festival. "You take their shots in the media, but they won't show up in court. …

"They don't want to see us in the courtroom. The lawyers are ducking and dodging us. The hang-up is they don't want to give us their deposition. … But at the same time, they're doing interviews and making the media rounds? … It's like a trash talker on the field. If you're serious, meet me on the 50-yard line."

"Tarnished Heisman," by Don Yaeger and Jim Henry and published by Simon & Schuster, includes transcripts of alleged conversations Lake secretly recorded between himself, Bush and Bush's stepfather, Lamar Griffin. In many of the transcripts, Lake and Griffin discuss money and payment. New Era which was founded in November 2005, sought to make Bush its major client. Bush did not sign with New Era but with sports marketer Mike Ornstein. The NCAA and Pac-10 are investigating whether Bush and his family took improper benefits.

Bush, who has denied any wrongdoing, questioned the motives behind Lake's story. "His motivations are only two motivations: one is money. Or a grudge, taking shots. There's money in that book."

Sam Alipour is a contributing writer to ESPN The Magazine.