MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: Reggie Bush advises upcoming stars to keep life simple

Posted May 15, 2014

Reggie Bush has some advice based on personal experience for how quarterback Johnny Manziel and other high-profile stars of this year’s NFL draft class should handle media scrutiny and other demands on their time.

Reggie Bush has some advice based on personal experience for how quarterback Johnny Manziel and other high-profile stars of this year’s NFL draft class should handle media scrutiny and other demands on their time.
Johnny ManzielQB Johnny Manziel (Photo: AP Images)

Bush’s advice is to keep football the No. 1 priority, and keep life as simple as possible. That’s what he tried to do as a star rookie with the Saints in 2006.

“The biggest thing to do is keep your circle small,” Bush said Thursday. “Those are the people who can make or break you.”

Manziel, the biggest star in terms of popularity in this year’s rookie class, was drafted 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M has sparked sales of Browns tickets and jersey sales nationally.

The Browns have taken steps to limit some of the media attention Manziel will face by prohibiting the national media from attending the upcoming rookie mini-camp.

The attention Manziel will get was one issue discussed Wednesday morning on ESPN’s popular Mike and Mike show. References were made to Bush because of how he faced a similar media barrage in 2006 when the Saints drafted him second overall out of Southern Cal as one of the most exciting running backs in college history.

Bush, preparing for his ninth pro season and second with the Lions, recalled the difficulty of dealing with the media demands.

“It wasn’t easy by any means because of the high expectations,” Bush said. “Obviously, Johnny Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner, is one of the most exciting players to come out since Tim Tebow. People are looking for and expecting a lot.

“He’ll have people pulling in all directions – family, friends, people wanting him to do this and that. Everything will happen naturally if you’re able to take care of football.”

Bush was a celebrity when he got to the Saints. He was used to the spotlight from playing at Southern Cal. The Trojans were so popular, it was like being in the cast of a weekly prime-time TV series. Then 21, his college experience made him better equipped than most rookies to handle the attention.

Manziel obviously is comfortable in the spotlight from his two seasons at Texas A&M, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get burned by the glare, or that there aren’t lessons to be learned on how to focus on the job at hand.

“I was able to do it for the most part,” Bush said. “It wasn’t easy. There’s no blueprint for it. Everybody’s situation is different. You can look at other people and learn from them a little bit.

“That’s not just for Manziel. That’s for all of these first-round draft picks. The best thing I did was keep my circle small. That allowed me to be a football player.”

In Bush’s rookie season the Saints made it to the NFC Championship, losing to the Bears one game from reaching the Super Bowl. He was a key part of the offense, catching 88 passes and rushing for 565 yards.

Managing his time in the offseason was another issue he faced.

“It got kind of crazy, flying here and there,” Bush said. “At first, it sounds good. When you start adding up those 15 to 20 appearances, you feel like you don’t have an offseason.

“You’re already back to minicamp, and you didn’t get to enjoy the offseason. It doesn’t stop when the season’s over.”

There are no pedestals and spotlights in the locker room. A rookie cannot put himself above his teammates.

“You haven’t proven anything,” Bush said. “A part of you should always feel like you have to prove yourself to your teammates. That’s the nature of this business – the nature of the beast.”