The Sudden Rebirth of One Reginald Alfred Bush I

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reggie bush focus

All photos by Jonathan Bachman

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Who could've imagined that when Reggie Bush was drafted, it would come almost as a surprise to the people watching him that he churned out 163 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against a division rival. It wasn't a total surprise, of course, but yesterday's performance — one which coach Sean Payton described as "dynamic" — seemed like a long time coming.

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He was coronated "Jesus in Cleats" before his first NFL snap and people expected miracles. What the city of New Orleans got was nothing short of a miraculous season. But while His team was spectacular, He was anything but (remember it took him five games to score his first NFL touchdown?). There were moments and flashes but, many started to wonder if His speed was relative to His inferior collegiate opponents. Even great moments turned into negative ones. When the season ended with a loss to Chicago in the NFC Championship game, some were already saying "Jesus in Cleats" was really just Reggie "Bush League".

reggie and karney

Then came last season. Saints fans may not remember that Reggie increased his production when the infallible Deuce McCallister went down with a knee injury. Saints fans remember 0—4 and not making the playoffs. They remember that Reggie didn't run like he did in college. He didn't win games on his own. He hardly won games at all. Then Reggie's knee gave out. Now people started to really have some doubts. He was quickly becoming a punchline. Coach Sean Payton didn't like any of that.

"When I hear people critique him and they clump '06 in there, you know it tells me a little about the person critiquing him," he said. "He had an outstanding year two years ago."

Yes, he did nine touchdowns. And yes he did add a new dimension to the Saints' offense. But just 1,307 yards from scrimmage is hardly "outstanding." Reggie Bush didn't look like the same player as he did in college his past two seasons in the NFL. Yesterday probably made a lot of people forget all of that.

reggie breaks free

"He was explosive," Payton said. "He seemed faster than everyone else on the field."

That's the Reggie Bush people remember. The one who no one questioned his skill or his speed or his ability to make opponents look foolish on the football field. Yesterday the flash was back. What was the difference? Bush said it was knowing that not every play was going to be a highlight; that he can't be his team's savior on every play.

 "My focus is different," he said. "I'm focused on doing the little things right this year. The four-yard gains are big plays for us. They keep us in the drives."

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Short of the Super Bowl and record-breaking performances, single games don't usually define a players' career. Up until now, it could be argued that Reggie Bush's defining moments consisted of him unable to stand immediately after a devastating hit, taunting the Bears' defense in a losing effort and a myriad of dances in the backfield that resulted in two-yard losses. Yesterday showed signs of something greater.

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Nine months after the end of a dissapointing season, Reginald Alfred Bush I was reborn.

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