Some people just don't have the eye. Instead, their talent is seeing past true talent, bypassing those with immeasurable physical gifts, proven game-day productivity and unshakable confidence. That said, the Texans' use of the first pick in the NFL draft on underwhelming defensive end Mario Williams from N.C. State rather than young Jordan-in-cleats Reggie Bush was alarming. In leaving Bush on the draft board to be scooped up by the savior-seeking New Orleans Saints, ex-Texans' general manager Charley Casserly and team owner Bob McNair robbed Houston fans of years' worth of highlights, hiding behind an Enron-like explanation that it was a "football decision.” "I wasn't the one negotiating the contract,” said Bush at the draft, "but I was going along with being signed by Houston. I'm not too sure what happened, but we were not just going to settle for anything.”
Translation: The Texans weren't committed to paying fair market value for the draft's ultimate playmaker. For the Saints, it appeared that their prayers had been answered. "From the time we found out he was going to be available, I was excited and our coaching staff was excited,” says Saints' GM Mickey Loomis. "What we didn't really have a grasp on was how excited the fans and people in the community would be for the team to get Reggie Bush.”
People who don't know a field goal from a flagrant foul but have a grasp of basic math would understand the Saints' oversized smiles. During his senior year at the University of Southern California, number 5 rushed for 1,658 yards (on an eye-popping 8.9 yards per carry) and scored 18 touchdowns en route to the Heisman Trophy and a return to the national championship game. In the Trojans' late-season win over Fresno State alone, Bush put up 513 all-purpose yards. Throughout his three-year career at USC, the back balled hard and was described as "generational” by sports analysts who hadn't seen anyone like him since Gale Sayers was breaking defenders' ankles in the '60s.

Continue reading this story in the October ‘06 issue of KING (#36)