JACKSON, Miss. -- Not everything is coming easy for Reggie Bush, who after agreeing to a six-year contract with the New Orleans Saints had trouble finding an immediate flight from Los
Angeles to Mississippi's capital city.
But while the No. 25 jersey continued to be absent from the New
Orleans Saints' training camp Sunday, the Millsaps College campus
where the team is practicing was enlivened by the news of his
"I'm kind of shocked he's [coming] here this early, but I'm
glad, and I'm sure the rest of the team is glad Baby Matrix is
here," said wide receiver Joe Horn, who came up with the "Baby
Matrix" nickname for Bush. "You ever seen "The Matrix" ... when
he's dodging those bullets? That's Reggie Bush. I thought of that
because 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 the
football. It's fact."
Some are calling the Heisman Trophy winner St. Reginald, playing
off the real St. Reginald of Orleans, who lived in France centuries
ago. Other's call him "the President."
Whatever he's called, he's generated unbridled excitement among
football fans in the Gulf South -- so much so that the Saints are
enjoying record season ticket sales despite the fact that much of
New Orleans remains heavily damaged from Hurricane Katrina last
Bush will be well compensated.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis declined to discuss the
financial terms of the contract Sunday afternoon, but noted, "We
were sensitive ... to the fact that Reggie expected to be the first
Bush was the second overall pick after Houston took defensive
end Mario Williams, then signed him to a six-year, $54 million
contract, with $26.5 million guaranteed. Reported incentives could
increase the value of Williams' deal to a little more than $60
In negotiations between Bush and the Saints, "We had to do some
compromising on both sides to get to a deal that we both felt good
about, or both felt bad about, depending on how you look at it,"
Bush's agent, Joel Segal, was in Jackson on Sunday to work
through details with Saints senior football administrator Russ
Ball, who Loomis credited with doing the "heavy lifting."
Saints officials were unsure whether Bush would find a flight
into Jackson late Sunday night or Monday. By Sunday afternoon, he
had 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 a
new offense for him and so there's a lot of nuances that go on to a
rookie's plate and a lot things that really are on him."
The signing heightens the likelihood that Michael Bennett, a
former Pro Bowl running back who came to the Saints as a free agent
before the draft, will be traded.
"Michael has done everything we asked and he's in a bit of a
tough position because he signed here not knowing that we were
going to draft Reggie Bush. We didn't know that either," Loomis
said. "It could be that he's on our team and it could be another
opportunity comes along."
Bennett has said he appreciated the Saints' position when Bush
fell to second in the NFL draft.
"I'm just looking forward to getting his autograph on a
jersey," Bennett said after practice Sunday. "I'm not frustrated,
because if I was an organization and the guy fell to my team with
the second pick, I would pick him too. He does some great things on
However, Bennett said he would prefer a trade to seeing little
action this season and added that he believes the Saints are
sympathetic to his situation.
"They've communicated to me they're going to take my best
interests at heart," Bennett said. "I don't want to have to sit
here and maybe get one or two reps of practice. I'm a guy who needs
to be in there getting reps whether it be on special teams or
something. I can't really sit back and watch because it really
starts to make me itch a little bit."