May 24, 2007
Again, I’m burried in magazine work, so today seemed as good a time as any to steal some content from the magazine to save me some time posting to the blog. I’ll save the actual interview for another 10-14 days until we post the magazine online, but here is my introduction to this year’s cover story – and interview with REGGIE BUSH.
by John Hansen
There’s nothing better than the NFL Playoffs. There’s no shortage of entertainment, of course, but the post-season is especially gratifying for me because it signals the end of 5-7 consecutive months of intense work and insane coffee consumption. For once, I can kick back and take pleasure in some NFL football knowing I don’t have an 80-hour work week ahead of me. And the football I view isn’t your typical mid-season fare; it’s high drama.
Unfortunately for yours truly, I’m able to rest easy for only a week or two after the regular season ends before I’m starting to map out a plan for the next season. One of the first things I do is consider which player I want to interview and put on the cover of this fine periodical. Back in 2004, it was an easy call: LaDainian Tomlinson, a great player and, from all accounts, a great person. LT was so impressive to interview, and his performances on the field the three seasons since I chatted with him speak for themselves. So the bar was raised very high. Last year’s cover, Steve Smith, is extraordinary on many levels, and he certainly met my criteria for our cover subject. I want an elite talent, but I also need to find a player who clearly has an intense desire to be great, and I don’t want to have any doubts about the player’s moral fiber.
In other words, don’t expect Mike Vick to make it to the very front of our magazine anytime soon.
So who was I going to pick for 2007? I need our guy to fit the description outlined above, but I also want a player about whom fantasy owners might still have some questions. After all, whether I interview Peyton Manning for the cover or not, you’re still going to rank him #1 on your draft board, so what’s the point?
So basically, my ideal cover subject is a player who is clearly an elite talent, preferably a potential all-time great, has a strong work ethic with no character issues, but is someone who might still be a little unproven as an NFL player and fantasy option.
And if he’s able to perform miracles, all the better.
It just so happened that I started thinking hard about whom I wanted for this year’s cover as I sat down to watch the NFC title game back in January. I had a guy in mind; just the week before, he took the hit of the year in the Divisional Playoff game and popped right back up, which impressed me. And with the Saints trailing 16-7 early in the 3rd quarter in the NFC Championship game, Reggie Bush took a Drew Brees pass down the sideline and turned it into an 88-yard TD – and at that moment, I knew the identity of the guy I wanted to get for this year’s cover.
Based on his body of work in high school and college, Bush scoring an 88-yard touchdown is standard fare. But this is a player whose struggles as a runner went from concerning early in the season to surreal by the middle of the 2006 campaign. Bush didn’t score a rushing or receiving TD until Week Ten, didn’t have his first 100-yard game until Week Thirteen, and by the official middle of the season, through Week Nine, he ranked as only the 38th best fantasy RB (in a non-PPR league). Any NFL scout with a clue believes Bush has everything it takes to have a brilliant NFL career, so clearly something was going on with the Heisman winner and 2nd pick overall of the 2006 NFL Draft, and I wanted to know what.
But another intriguing aspect to the Reggie Bush story was the team he (surprisingly) ended up on. An accepted interpretation of the word Saint is: “an ideal model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal.” That definition certainly applies to Bush, the NFL player. Another interpretation of “a Saint” is one who performs miracles. It was certainly a miracle for the New Orleans organization and family that Bush fell to them in the draft, especially given what the organization, and especially the city, has been going though. Maybe Bush didn’t perform miracles for those who drafted him in fantasy football last year, but I believe it will be doing just that very soon.
Bush is a player who had garnered more than his fair share of headlines, but there was also no shortage of storylines relating to this player in 2006. He already fit my ideal description of a cover story interview, so you can see why I wanted to get him – and get him I did on a Friday afternoon in New York City the day before the draft.
….begin interview (which will be posted in less than two weeks).