MIAMI – Club-hopping A-listers are notorious for pushing to the front of most any South Beach line.
Reggie Bush, meanwhile, spends his downtime pushing a blocking sled.
A younger Bush built a gossip-page reputation as a socialite and playboy. But these days, you’re more likely to find him at a movie theater than a club.
And while the salacious details of past heartbreak were fodder for reality television, his current love life is far more discrete.
In short, Bush is the opposite of everything a self-respecting Miami-based celebrity should be: He’s polite, modest and humble.
Or put another way, Bush is the perfect poster-boy for Joe Philbin’s Dolphins. In a largely anonymous locker room, Bush is the anti-diva.
“I’ve never thought about being the star,” the now-27-year-old running back said. “The guys who are with me, who’ve played with me, or have seen me on a daily basis, know that I work hard.”
At the dawn of a new Dolphins season, Bush has a new role – team leader – and a new goal. The one-time gadget back wants to lead the league in rushing.
And with every tackle he breaks, Bush wants to crush the perception that he’s all sizzle, and no substance.
Bush showed toughness in 2011, his first year in Miami. Then-coach Tony Sparano believed what few others did: That Bush could handle the every-down pounding and run between the tackles.
Bush rewarded that faith by posting career-highs in carries (216) and yards (1,086). His 5.0 yards-per-rush average was best among NFL backs with at least 200 carries.
And now, as Bush heads into a contract year, playing with a rookie quarterback and untested receivers, this season could be his perfect storm.
He’s not only the Dolphins’ best offensive option. Bush might be their only dependable one.
“He’s got such good natural instincts as a runner,” Philbin said, “and he’s got some patience too.”
That patience came in handy when dealing with the sillier side of celebrity, a byproduct of his off-again, on-again, and (likely) off-for-good relationship with the Queen of Reality TV, Kim Kardashian.
Bush, now two years removed from that fishbowl (and happily so), said he doesn’t regret that past association.
It’s an answer Bush, the Southern Cal star and second pick of the 2006 NFL draft, gives in an otherwise drama-free career.
He was the runaway pick for the 2005 Heisman Trophy, and led the Trojans to consecutive appearances in the national championship game.
But years later, the NCAA determined Bush had received improper benefits while a student-athlete. Signs were the Heisman Trust intended to strip Bush of the trophy, and so he willfully gave it up himself.
“I don’t regret anything,” Bush said of the ordeal. “I think everything happens for a reason. I always believed that God puts things in front of you and tests you to prepare you for something maybe worse to come.”
As a pro, nothing worse has come his way – unless you count falling short of the stratospheric expectations that greeted his arrival.
Regardless, Bush helped the Saints win the only Super Bowl title in team history in 2009, and scored 33 all-purpose touchdowns during his five years in New Orleans.
The knock on Bush was his durability, and for good reason. He missed a quarter of his games in a Saints uniform. Ultimately, New Orleans chose to trade him to Miami for next to nothing before the 2011 season.
He then signed a two-year, $10 million contract that ends after this season. “Most people look at this as a pressure situation, but I don’t even think about it,” said Bush, who claims he could finish his career in Miami. “I don’t want to keep bouncing around from team to team. I’d like to have a home and stay there.”