Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS ― On a bright, crisp New Orleans spring day, Reggie Bush was forced to confront the dark and ugly part of being a professional athlete.
For Bush, that meant answering questions about his contract and remaining in New Orleans.
And throughout the questioning about his recent off-field mishaps – tweets about remaining with the Saints and the lockout that started a minor firestorm – Bush remained calm, never dodging the queries.
Bush, in fact, made one thing clear – he wants to remain in New Orleans, finishing his career with the team that drafted him with the second pick of the 2006 draft.
“Always. Saints are my first and foremost choice to be here,” Bush said. “I would love to retire here if possible. I would love to play for the Saints for however long my career, God-willing, allows me to play. First and foremost I want to be a Saint.”
The Saints’ running back was in town conducting his Reggie Bush football camp at Tulane’s Westfeldt practice facility.
It was the first time Bush had been on the turf since last year’s camp, meaning he hasn’t attended any of the Saints’ player-generated offseason training program, which is taking place on the same field.
While Bush said he plans to attend in the future, he’ll go “sparingly.”
Just like in tweets he sent out a week ago, Bush said the possibility of injury while not being under contract because of the lockout is one of the reasons for not going full out with his teammates.
He also said his current contract kerfuffle with the Saints is a reason for not being in New Orleans.
For now, Bush will remain spending most of his time working out in Los Angeles, where he has spent time at former Saints tight end Billy Miller’s facility while also doing UFC training.
As for his contract, Bush realizes that there will have to be a negotiating session between himself, his agent Joel Segal and the Saints when the lockout ends. It’ll be a session that will include him likely taking a pay cut to remain in New Orleans.
“Obviously you know that there is going to have to be some kind of pay cut, some type of re-negotiation,” said Bush, who is set to make $11.8 million in the final year of his contract. “We’re going to do the best we can to come to a happy medium, a meeting point and hopefully be able to play for the Saints, six, seven, eight, 10 more years.”
Both head coach Sean Payton – during the nearly 24-hour period the lockout was not on – and quarterback Drew Brees have contacted Bush on the heels of the Saints taking running back Mark Ingram in the draft.
They had the same message for Bush – the Saints need him and can use both players.
Payton told him, “He basically said, ‘We still want you to be here. We still have a huge role for you here and you're a huge part of why this offense has been successful the past five years. You're the reason why this offense clicks so just know that we want you here and get ready to be a Saint.”