Bush late getting flight to Jackson

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 31, 2006

JACKSON, Miss. – Not everything is coming easy for Reggie Bush,who after agreeing to a six-year contract with the New OrleansSaints had trouble finding an immediate flight from Los Angeles toMississippi’s capital city.

But while the No. 25 jersey continued to be absent from the NewOrleans Saints’ training camp Sunday, the Millsaps College campuswhere the team is practicing was enlivened by the news of hisimpending arrival.

”I’m kind of shocked he’s (coming) here this early, but I’mglad, and I’m sure the rest of the team is glad Baby Matrix ishere,” said wide receiver Joe Horn, who came up with the ”BabyMatrix” nickname for Bush. ”You ever seen ”The Matrix” … whenhe’s dodging those bullets? That’s Reggie Bush. I thought of thatbecause it was real. That’s what I was seeing out there. I mean,the guy’s phenomenal with his moves and the way he runs with thefootball. It’s fact.”

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Some are calling the Heisman Trophy winner St. Reginald, playingoff the real St. Reginald of Orleans, who lived in France centuriesago. Other’s call him ”the President.”

Whatever he’s called, he’s generated unbridled excitement amongfootball fans in the Gulf South – so much so that the Saints areenjoying record season ticket sales despite the fact that much ofNew Orleans remains heavily damaged from Hurricane Katrina lastsummer.

Bush will be well compensated.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis declined to discuss thefinancial terms of the contract Sunday afternoon, but noted, ”Wewere sensitive … to the fact that Reggie expected to be the firstpick.”

Bush was the second overall pick after Houston took defensiveend Mario Williams, then signed him to a six-year, $54 millioncontract, with $26.5 million guaranteed. Reported incentives couldincrease the value of Williams’ deal to a little more than $60million.

In negotiations between Bush and the Saints, ”We had to do somecompromising on both sides to get to a deal that we both felt goodabout, or both felt bad about, depending on how you look at it,”Loomis said.

Bush’s agent, Joel Segal, was in Jackson on Sunday to workthrough details with Saints senior football administrator RussBall, who Loomis credited with doing the ”heavy lifting.”

Saints officials were unsure whether Bush would find a flightinto Jackson late Sunday night or Monday. By Sunday afternoon, hehad missed the first five practices of training camp.

”It’s important to get (Bush) in here when we’re in pads,”coach Sean Payton said. ”He hasn’t been in pads for us. It is anew offense for him and so there’s a lot of nuances that go on to arookie’s plate and a lot things that really are on him.”

The signing heightens the likelihood that Michael Bennett, aformer Pro Bowl running back who came to the Saints as a free agentbefore the draft, will be traded.

”Michael has done everything we asked and he’s in a bit of atough position because he signed here not knowing that we weregoing to draft Reggie Bush. We didn’t know that either,” Loomissaid. ”It could be that he’s on our team and it could be anotheropportunity comes along.”

Bennett has said he appreciated the Saints’ position when Bushfell to second in the NFL draft.

”I’m just looking forward to getting his autograph on ajersey,” Bennett said after practice Sunday. ”I’m not frustrated,because if I was an organization and the guy fell to my team withthe second pick, I would pick him too. He does some great things onthe field.”

However, Bennett said he would prefer a trade to seeing littleaction this season and added that he believes the Saints aresympathetic to his situation.

”They’ve communicated to me they’re going to take my bestinterests at heart,” Bennett said. ”I don’t want to have to sithere and maybe get one or two reps of practice. I’m a guy who needsto be in there getting reps whether it be on special teams orsomething. I can’t really sit back and watch because it reallystarts to make me itch a little bit.”