Reggie Bush was supposed to be the man. Highly-touted and Heisman-decorated out of USC, Bush was expected to be the Last of the Great Running Backs, a speedster with enough muscle to avoid being branded a scatback. He should've been what Adrian Peterson is.
That was nine years ago.
Three teams and a paltry 5,465 yards later (in fairness, he has an above average 4.3 yards a carry), Bush’s days as a feature back are pretty much done, choked off in as pedestrian a manner as possible when the Detroit Lions released him before the start of free agency. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Back before the threat of NCAA sanctions sent Pete Carroll scurrying to Seattle, Bush was a hero. He smashed Vince Young in Heisman voting in ‘05 before getting drafted by the Saints in the ‘06 draft.
It never got greater later.
Bush hasn't been dull or unproductive in the NFL, just never as spectacular as we all thought he would be. He only played a full 16 games for the Saints in his rookie season and never carried for more than 581 yards in his New Orleans days. His best season was in 2011 in his first campaign with the Dolphins, when he averaged 5 yards per carry for 1,086 total yards over 214 carries. That was a year after the NCAA put the boots to him and the USC program over rules violations when he was a player there, prompting Bush to give back his Heisman.
All of that -- the long arm of hypocrisy in collegiate athletics, the disappointing pro numbers -- is past tense. What’s present is a Reggie Bush without a team-- and the reasons why.
The irony of Bush being cut by the Lions is that it’s not about him being an aging running back who never lived up to his potential. It’s about clearing cap space for Ndamukong Suh, the same guy who’s been suspended once and fined more than 400-large by The Shield for dirty plays. Suh’s a free agent this year; more than that, he’s an edge rusher who can and does create havoc on nearly every snap. The Lions have more running backs, including Joique Bell, who kinda-sorta-almost had a breakout season last year, on the roster. They need Suh desperately enough to use the franchise tag or flat out overpay him if necessary. Their offense, like the Dolphins and Saints before them, won’t skip a beat without Reggie Bush.
The fans who once looked to him for some excitement won’t skip one either.