Reggie Bush: Learn how to say no

Updated: August 8, 2014, 11:09 AM ET
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Reggie Bush has seen all of this before, has lived all of it before. In 2006, the Detroit Lions running back was, essentially, Johnny Manziel.

He was the hotshot entering the league as one of the top picks in the draft but also with something more. Bush, like Manziel does now, had an aura of celebrity around him that is not often seen around NFL players, period, let alone rookies.

So he, more than most in the NFL, can understand what Manziel is going through.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesHe gets it: Reggie Bush was greeted by a crush of media as a rookie at training camp back in 2006.

"It reminds me of what I went through, you know," Bush told ESPN.com. "For him, he's going to have to learn how to say no and that's going to be extremely hard because it's going to be the people closest to you who you're going to have to learn to say no to.

"And then you're going to have to keep your circle small so that you can be allowed to focus on football, because without football, nothing else is going to (matter)."

Bush said he hasn't spoken with Manziel and won't necessarily seek him out either before or after the Lions play the Cleveland Browns in the teams' preseason opener Saturday night. If he does happen to run into him, though, he said he might pull him aside for a minute.

Like Manziel at Texas A&M, the attention started for Bush during his final season at USC, when he and quarterback Matt Leinart were constantly bombarded with interview requests and the Trojans were essentially like an NFL team in Los Angeles.

Never mind Bush was also on the No. 1 team in the country for the majority of the season and ended up winning the Heisman Trophy. That, Bush said, is when the attention began, and the notice and celebrity only escalated when he dated his now ex-girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.

"When I started dating my ex, that's when all this stuff came," Bush said. "But it's part of the territory and, like I said, everything happens for a reason. A lot of it started in college, too, winning championships and all the different things we were able to accomplish at the collegiate level, that's where it started obviously, why there was the attention at first, because of the accomplishments.

"Then all the other stuff came. The gossip magazines and all the other stuff, the ugly side of it. But you know what, I wouldn't change anything because it helped mold and shape who I am today and I'm a better man for it."

Now 29 and married with a child, Bush looks back and is thankful for all he went through early in his NFL career, and even in college. The attention then made it easier for him to deal with all of the requests and any attention he receives now.

He isn't sure how Manziel is handling it all because all he can see is what everyone else sees -- from afar. Like many others, though, he is curious to see Manziel play Saturday night.

"I really haven't kept up too much," Bush said. "I don't believe what I see on TV because I know better. I don't believe what I read. I'm not sure how he's handling it. Hopefully he's doing well."

So what was the celebrity attention like? With Bush's answer about his own experience, he appeared to almost offer advice to Manziel.

"It's good and bad," Bush said. "When you're young, you're still trying to kind of find yourself, especially at the professional level. You're still trying to find your identity and you're still coming into your own as a player, as an athlete, you're still trying to improve and have all these people pulling you in different directions. So it's tough. It's not easy.

"The best thing that you can do is just keep your circle small. Everybody is going to want a piece of you. Everyone is going to want to be your friend. Everyone has a great business idea. Everyone's your cousin, your uncle, everything. The best thing you can do is keep your circle small and you have to learn how to say no. That's the hardest thing, learning how to say no."

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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