Bush could be next running back to underachieve in NFL
In the final seconds of Sunday night’s Packers game against the Lions, I found myself in a predicament I’ve never experienced.On the one hand, I was cheering for the Packers to win, to prevent another streak from ending (the Lions haven’t won in Lambeau since 1991) and for them to gain whatever measure of respectability they can in the final four games of the season. On the other hand, I knew that with every Favre first down, every Ferguson catch and with every run by the Minister of Offense Samkon Gado, the chances of one of college football’s most prolific running backs in recent memory were slipping farther and farther away.After watching Houston lose in tumultuous fashion the past two weeks, it almost seems like Bush is destined for the Texans. Either that or kicker Kris Brown put on one of the worst impersonations of a deliberately botched field goal in NFL history.In hindsight, the “missed” field goal might have been one of the best plays the Texans have made all year. The loss puts the Texans at 1-12 and in a foot race with the San Francisco 49ers (2-11) for top rights to the Bush sweepstakes.Furthermore, things could get interesting come week 18 when the 49ers and Texans square off in a game that could ultimately turn around one of these teams for years.Still, just how well would Reggie Bush do in the NFL? He’s surely not the biggest running back to come out for the draft and he is not the quickest either, but he does carry the most hype of any draft pick in recent memory. Still, if you look at some of the other supposed sure-bet running backs to enter the draft; I wouldn’t even begin to classify Bush as the player to turn around any team.Most people think of white Ford Broncos, the infamous houseguest Cato, Al Cowlings and people like Judge Lance Ito when the name O.J. Simpson is mentioned. However, back in his days at USC, Simpson was a Heisman winner and many predicted he would have an outstanding career. Some think he did. I think otherwise.Simpson had, at most, two or three great years. In 1973, he rushed for 2000 yards while averaging six yards a carry. Two years later he backed up that performance with 1,817 yards. Still, in his 11 years in the NFL, Simpson only broke the 1000-yard mark five times and only scored more than six touchdowns in a season four times — reminds me a little of the career progression of Jamal Lewis.Herschel Walker was even more pathetic. Walker was a dominant college football player, rushing for 5,259 yards and winning the Heisman while at Georgia. Yet when he joined the Dallas Cowboys, he had one impressive year of 1,514 yards then dropped off the map. In 13 seasons, he only broke the 1000-yard mark twice.Next, we have Bo Jackson. The multi-sport athlete was a freak, yet never really lived up to the hype. Hip separating injuries will often do that, but even before the Bengals ended his career, Jackson was a so-so running back.Never playing in more than 11 games in one season, Jackson’s career-high was only 950 yards and five touchdowns. He had an Anthony Davis-like college career amassing 4,303 total yards and 43 touchdowns while at Auburn.Other college running backs with great college careers that never materialized into NFL stars are Ron Dayne, Kijana Carter and Rashaan Salaam.Now, let’s look at the college career of Reggie Bush. He has steadily improved since his freshman year when he ran for only 521 yards. He has almost doubled his rushing yards and touchdowns each year since then.Still, where would Bush be without that 500-yard performance against Fresno State? I don’t think there would be as much hype as there is and I don’t think one game makes Bush the next Simpson, Walker or Bo Jackson.At least, Bush better hope that doesn’t.Bush is the most talented college running back in years. Still, some of the best running backs to emerge in the NFL come into the league without the hype. Some get their chances due to injury.Should Gado continue to improve over the remaining three games of the season and eliminate some of the mental mistakes he has continually made, he could be a great asset for the Packers in the future. An asset that would come with a price tag far below what Bush would require.While Bush is a talent, I wouldn’t start throwing away games just yet to win a sweepstakes that guarantees nothing.You hear that Ted Thompson?