Chad Bower / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Moments after the Saints selected former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in the NFL Draft, Reggie Bush had a simple message for fans: "It's been fun New Orleans."
The words, posted on Bush's Twitter account, drew immediate reaction from fans and commentators. Some immediately lashed out at the Saints running back, a former Heisman winner himself, while others defended him, wondering if the comment was directed at the Hornets' first-round NBA playoff exit, which happened about an hour before he posted the tweet.
After about two hours of silence on his Twitter account, Bush posted another tweet, this time congratulating Ingram: "Congrats to Mark Ingram on being selected to New Orleans. He will be a great addition to the Saints backfield just as he was in Alabama."
According to head coach Sean Payton, Bush shouldn't fret, as he feels the draft selection is irrelevant to whether or not the team decides to hold onto him.
"This selection is a selection that has no bearing (on bring back Bush) if you will," he said. "Reggie has a certain skill set that we value a lot. This is a runner who I would say has a much different style. So I wouldn't even begin to look at how it will affect Reggie's status with us at all."
One of the central concerns of the offseason has been Bush's place in the future of the team. He's due to make $12 million next year -- a salary the Saints aren't expected to retain him at -- and unless the two sides agree to a restructed deal, it's unlikely Bush will be wearing black and gold next year.
Even putting the high salary aside, Bush's has failed to live up to the potential the Saints envisioned when they selected him with the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. While he's been an explosive player, he's struggled to stay healthy and many fans have questioned his ability as a runner in the NFL -- that he's too skittish, too wary to hit the open hole.
Payton commended Ingram's ability to read and pick up pressure. Eyewitness Sports Director Jim Henderson said that was one of Bush's biggest weaknesses.
"One of the first things that Shaun said about Mark Ingram was how well he protects the passer, how well he understands the pro grame," Henderson said. "That was never Reggie Bush's strength, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this does mean the end of Reggie Bush in New Orleans."