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Saints Fans Thank Reggie Bush For the Memories and the Lombardi

As you may have heard by now, former Saints running back Reggie Bush retired yesterday at the age of 32, and said that he'd like to return to New Orleans in the near-future to officially retire as a member of the Saints organization that drafted him as the #2 overall selection out of the University of Southern California back in the 2006 NFL Draft.

The reaction from Saints fans on Social Media was mixed in most cases, but a large majority of fans still hold Bush in high regard for helping the team in its role with the rebuilding efforts of the New Orleans community following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; and of course his contributions during the 2009 season that saw New Orleans win its first-ever and only Pro Football World Championship and Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLIV.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Bush, in speaking with Dan Hellie and Maurice Jones-Drew on NFL Total Access, said his career has come to an end, despite him feeling like he could "still play right now at a high level."

"I'm done," Bush said. "Yeah, I'm done. I said it. It's not breaking news. I've been saying it. I said it all season long, I said, 'Listen, if I don't play this year, I'm going to retire.' Because I'm not going to spend a whole year off, come back, 33 years old, trying to get back in the league. Listen, once you get to a certain age as a running back, they just start to slowly weed you out."

"But listen, the Saints know I'm coming home at some point," Bush said.

"I'm going to come home to retire as a Saint. But yeah, man, I'm done. For sure. I'm done."

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Bush's announcement wasn't all that unexpected.

He turns 33 before the 2018 season, and he hasn't even played a single down of football in the NFL since last season, when he finished the season with minus-3 rushing yards on 12 carries for the Buffalo Bills.

The former college football legend at USC great hasn't played in a full season since 2013, the last year he rushed for more than 1,000 yards (1,006 with the Detroit Lions).

Bush, though, was once one of the most exciting players in the entire League at one point. For the youngest of Saints fans right now who aren't old enough to remember him: Bush was Alvin Kamara BEFORE Alvin Kamara.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

He was the perfect "scat back" in head coach Sean Payton's offense in New Orleans for five NFL seasons (2006-2010), catching 47 or more passes from 2006 to 2009.

During his entire 5-year run as a Saint, Bush totaled 4,232 yards from scrimmage as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield; and added an additional 720 yards returning punts, running 4 of them all the way back for scores.

As an RB, he gained 2,090 yards on 524 carries and 17 TD's; and as a receiver out of the backfield caught 294 passes for 2,142 yards for 12 TD's.

Bush scored a touchdown 33 times as a Saints player — and a majority of the time they were a part of some of the biggest moments in Saints history.

In fact there were an entire handful of 'big moments', in the 5 years total that he spent in New Orleans.

Which is why this morning, as the 2017 Saints team prepares to play an important game tomorrow at the Superdome against the Jets, that we're paying tribute to the man who helped usher in the "Golden Era" of New Orleans Saints football.

Here is the Saints News Network's Top 3 "Reggie Bush Moments", in honor of his retirement:

 

3. THE "GOOD, BAD, AND THE UGLY" GAME VS. MINNESOTA, 2008

Back in a Week #5 contest at home in the Superdome on ESPN Monday Night Football during his 3rd NFL year in the 2008 season, Bush gave the visiting Minnesota Vikings special teams unit nightmares, as he returned two punts for touchdowns in the second half and could have returned a third one for a score, but tripped and fell.

The first return came in the third quarter and went for 71 yards. The 2nd one came in the 4th quarter and was good for 64 yards.

But, Bush could not make up for his earlier mistakes as the Saints still lost to the Vikings by a score of 30-27. Earlier in the game, Bush fumbled twice (he lost them both); and the Saints fumbled the football away 5 times in the game.

As if that weren't bad enough, the Saints STILL had a chance to tie the game and go into overtime; but then-Saints kicker Martin Grammatica — who had one kick blocked and returned for a Vikings TD earlier in the game — missed a 45-yard field goal with less than 2 minutes to play.

 

2.  THE "FLEUR DE LEAP"  IN THE SAINTS' ICONIC COME BACK  WEEK #7 WIN OVER THE MIAMI DOLPHINS DURING THE 2009 REGULAR SEASON (THAT HELPED THEIR EVENTUAL RUN TO A SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP)

The Saints and Bush won the Super Bowl in 2009, and this reverse from Week #7 against the Dolphins that eventually became known as "The Fleur-De-Leap" was one of their signature plays of that year.

Bush took the reverse, hit the corner and then leaped forward across the pylon with his entire body outstretched, putting the Saints ahead for good (after they had trailed for most of the game) in the 4th quarter.

The now-iconic 46-34 "come back" victory on October 25, 2009 at Land Shark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., matched the team's biggest comeback in their 51-year franchise history when they rebounded from a 24-3 deficit with five seconds left in the 1st half. 

Although the Saints were undefeated at the time (6-0), they appeared headed for their first loss; and Bush's play was one of the "signature moments" of that game and it no doubt propelled the team onward in its eventual run to a Super Bowl championship at the end of that season.

 

#1. REGGIE BUSH "BRINGS THE WOOD" IN THE 2009 NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS VS. THE ARIZONA CARDINALS

Before the Saints' 45-14 2009 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Saints coach Sean Payton presented each player with a black baseball bat that included these words emblazoned on the barrel to inspire physical play:

"Saints vs. Cardinals. Jan. 16, 2010."

"Bring The Wood!"

Bush was so pumped, that he hoisted the bat in his right fist as he came running onto the field before kickoff at the Superdome.

The result? 5 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown to complement his 83-yard punt return for a score late in the 3rd quarter.

To this very day all the way up to yesterday's retirement, some still consider his performance in that particular game to be the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner's best performance of his entire college and NFL career.

In all, Bush's time in New Orleans will be remembered fondly because he helped the city rebuild and recover from Hurricane Katrina, and he helped deliver a Super Bowl title. 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Thanks for the memories, Reggie.

You'll always be a legend among your biggest fans, in the "Who Dat Nation".......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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