NEW ORLEANS â€“ After being conspicuously absent from the first two weeks of â€œplayers onlyâ€™â€™ workouts, veteran New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush finally found his way to the Westfeldt Practice Facility at Tulane University.
With a helping hand from a staff of 26 area-based prep coaches, RB25 presided over his 3rd annual football camp SaturdayÂ for approximately 250 area youths ages 7-14.
At campâ€™s end Sunday, RB25, no doubt, will draw upon his lifeâ€™s ups and downs and leave campers with some inspirational words to live by.
My only hope is that Bush leaves the topic of Social Networking to someone more versed than he. Suffice to say, the former 2005 Heisman Trophy winner hasnâ€™t exactly mastered â€œTwitter 101: Think Twice Before You Tweet.â€™â€™
You know what I mean?
Know this, Bush offered his mea culpa Saturday to those Saints fans who might have been offended by his now infamous Tweet, â€œItâ€™s Been Fun New Orleans,â€™â€™ which surfaced shortly after Saints officials selected Alabama running back Mark Ingram with the 28th pick of the first round on April 28.
OK, Who Dat Nation, accept his heartfelt apology and move on.
There are much bigger issues at play here. For instance
â€¢ Will Bush accept a significant reduction of his scheduled 2011 base salary of $11.8 million and continue his career in New Orleans for â€œrelative peanuts?â€™â€™
â€¢ Can Bush and Ingram co-exist in the same backfield that currently includes promising second-year pro Chris Ivory and veteran Pierre Thomas, who signed a four-year, $11,031.250 contract in early March that calls for annual base salaries of $640,000 (guaranteed), $2.6 million (guaranteed), $2.1 million and $2.5 million through 2014. PT23 also is due a $100,000 workout bonus in 2012, and $300,000 roster bonuses and $100,000 workout bonuses each in 2013 and â€™14.
â€¢ Or will Bush balk at a pay cut and attempt to force a trade? Keep in mind, agent Joel Segal represents both Bush and Ingram.
Bush did his level best to address those questions Saturday in light of the ongoing NFL lockout, now entering its third month with no clear end in sight.
â€œIt resonates and I hear it,â€™â€™ Bush said in reference to supportive post-draft messages from quarterback Drew Brees and Coach Sean Payton. â€œI know they want me here. I know the coaches want me here and the team wants me here, and itâ€™s a matter of handling the business side of it.
â€œIt sucks, but every player is going to have to deal with it at some point and time in his career. We all have to deal with the business side of this sport. As much as we love it and share a passion for it, there is an ugly part of it and thatâ€™s the business side, and we got to sit down and try to come to a happy medium with the team.â€™â€™
Bush addressed other topics, such as
-- Reducing his base salary:
â€œThatâ€™s something that me and my agent and the Saints have to collectively come together and talk about and just come to a happy medium. Because obviously, we know that thereâ€™s going to have to be some type of pay cut, that thereâ€™s going to have to be some type of renegotiation. Weâ€™re going to do the best we can to come to a happy medium, a meeting point, and hopefully, Iâ€™ll be able to play for the Saints for six, seven, eight, 10 more years.â€™â€™
-- How Ingramâ€™s presence in New Orleans will affect Bushâ€™s future negotiations with GM Mickey Loomis:
â€œI think Ingram is a great player. Heâ€™s going to be a great player in this league, and I think heâ€™s going to have a huge impact with the Saints. Thatâ€™s really it. I donâ€™t really know how much or less it impacts my decision because we havenâ€™t come to the table yet. We havenâ€™t even sat down yet. As of right now, weâ€™re in a lockout. So nothing can happen until the lockout.â€™â€™
-- Sharing the same agent with Ingram:
â€œI think itâ€™s great. My agent, Joel Segal, is a great agent. Everybody has a different opinion about having a player play the same position and represented by the same agent going to the same team. I donâ€™t know, because this is the first time that I am having to deal with it.â€™â€™
-- The direction of his NFL career:
â€œThe Saints are my first and foremost choice to be here. Iâ€™d love to retire here if possible. Iâ€™d love to play for the Saints, how ever God willingly allows me to play. But first and foremost, I want to be a Saint.â€™â€™
-- His post-draft conversation with Ingram:
â€œI told him to enjoy his time. I told him to make sure he enjoys just being in the NFL. It sucks that he has to deal with the lockout right away going into his rookie year. But I told him to enjoy his time. Heâ€™s worked hard to get here and he deserves to be here.â€™â€™
-- The possibility of sharing â€œtouchesâ€™â€™ with Ingram:
â€œIf anybody knows about sharing, itâ€™s me. Iâ€™ve been doing it my whole career, so I welcome it with open arms. Obviously, weâ€™re two different players; two different style players. We can definitely help each other, and weâ€™ll see what happens. Iâ€™m just ready to get the lockout over with; that way I can get back and I can have a job.â€™â€™
-- What he meant by his Tweet: â€œItâ€™s Been Fun New Orleans:â€™â€™
â€œObviously, sometimes you write things and you say things and they may come off the wrong way and they may be taken the wrong way. Or, you may not even mean it that way, or you may regret it. At the end of the day, I probably shouldnâ€™t have tweeted that and I probably shouldnâ€™t have said that and Iâ€™m sure a lot of people took it the wrong way. And I apologize to the city of New Orleans if they have (taken it the wrong way). It wasnâ€™t said out of frustration because I think Ingram is a great player. I think heâ€™s going to have a huge role here, and he can help us. We need all the help we can get. Thatâ€™s part of what happens in the NFL; you get help and you get great players. First and foremost, for me, it is to remain a New Orleans Saint and to be here and hopefully to retire here.â€™â€™
-- The message he gleaned from his post-draft conversation with Payton:
â€œWe still want you to be here. We still have a huge role for you here, and youâ€™re a huge part of why this offense has been successful the past five years, and youâ€™re a reason why this offense clicks. So just know that we want you here, and just get ready to be a Saint.â€™â€™
-- When he plans to join his teammates in workouts at Tulane:
â€œI will be there this week. â€¦ (But) I will be there sparingly. I wonâ€™t be at all the stuff. Given the current lockout situation, I think everybody is in different positions. Everybody has a different mentality. Everybody is taking on this lockout differently. Some guys who arenâ€™t under contract at all have to think about how smart it is for them to show up and work out and put their bodies at risk for injury and not being covered (by insurance). Given my current situation, we have to take care of the lockout first and then weâ€™ll take care of Reggie. But first the lockout.â€™â€™ â€¦ Iâ€™m still trying to figure out the lockout and my contract. You want to please everybody, but at the same time you got to make sure you protect yourself, too. Hopefully, at some point in time this lockout will end, and we can all go back to being happy. â€¦ My knee feels great, my body feels great. I always feel great when Iâ€™m not getting pounded every week.â€™â€™
Saints beat writer Brian Allee-Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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