In the midst of the Comic Con chaos in San Diego, over three hundred kids, from grades 1-12 gathered at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa, CA to spend a little time and receive valuable coaching from their hometown hero, Reggie Bush at his ProCamp. Little did these kids know what a deal they were getting. Bush brought out a bevy of his friends, current and retired NFL players to help out with the two day camp. The team included: Donte Stallworth, Joique Bell, Lance Moore, Golden Tate, Joseph Fauria, Billy Miller, Larry English, Thomas Williams, Rob Sims, Robert Griffith, and Stephen Cooper.
The camp was emceed by the exuberant Rod Huber who has endless amounts of energy to keep the campers organized and motivated. The day always starts with organized group calisthenics, opening announcements and then the kids are broken up into small groups by age, the ratio of campers to coaches is about 10 to 1. This camp stands out as one of the few that includes high school aged athletes. These older kids get the opportunity to work with Aaron Drogoszewski and his Everlast sponsored crew.
Similar to Colin Kaepernick’s camp, Citi sponsored an exclusive lunch for a few lucky campers and they were each allowed to ask Reggie a question. The following is a transcript:
Kids: What team do you play for?
Reggie: I play for the San Francisco 49ers now. I played for Detroit last year. I’ll be back in red and gold.
Kids: What kind of video games did you play when you were a kid?
RB: I played Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Atari, Play Station when it first came out. Tecmo Bowl. You guys don’t even know what Tecmo Bowl is. It was one of the first football games that came out. I remember that Bo Jackson was a beast on that game so that was one of my favorite games to play, Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo. Some of these kids are like "What is THAT?"
Kids: How do you think Colin Kaepernick and you will fit together?
RB: I think we are going to do well. This will be my first year, my first time in my career where I’ve played with an athletic running quarterback, running the option, so it’s going to be a little different for me. I’m not used to seeing my quarterbacks take off and run down the field. It’s going to be a little different at first I think, but it’s also a good thing because having that ability from a quarterback standpoint only puts more pressure on the defense and more pressure on the defensive line to always watch where he’s at. I think the more eyes that are watching other people than me, is the better for me and the better for our team, so I think we are going to do well together. I’m excited. Good question.
Kids: What’s your favorite team that you played for?
RB: Haha, Helix High School. I miss those days, those easy high school football days. Yeah, I would say, you know, every team that I’ve played for, they’ve all been great. I’ve enjoyed all of them. I think I’ve taken something different from every team, every organization and every city. I’d say the one that sticks out the most is the New Orleans Saints because we won a Super Bowl, but they’ve all been great. I would say that my first five years in New Orleans were pretty special, what we were able to accomplish as a team.
Kids: How old were you when you started playing football?
RB: Good question. I was nine years old when I first started playing tackle football, and my mom didn’t want me to play football, like all moms, usually. They think it’s too physical of a sport, but I was really hyper and energetic as a kid growing up. I used to get into trouble a lot when in school when I was in elementary because I had so much energy and I think when you’re that young you still try to find a way to use that energy in a positive way. All you know is to play and have fun and do whatever it is you do. Point of the story is that all of the teachers thought that I should be prescribed some kind of ADD medicine, Ritalin, or whatever it is for kids who are hyper and my mom didn’t agree with that and so my dad finally talked her into letting me play sports. Baseball was my first sport. I love baseball but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t using enough energy, it was too boring for me, no offense to anybody. Once I started playing football, everything made sense and I found a positive way to use that energy. I stopped getting into trouble and my grades went up and my parents didn’t really have to do much because they knew I was going to stay out of trouble playing football.
Kids: What age did you know you wanted to play in the NFL and what did it take?
RB: You know, that’s a funny question because people ask me a lot: If you weren’t playing football, what would you be doing? I never have an answer for that question because all I had was a plan A. I didn’t have a plan B, C, D. I knew I wanted to play football and that was it, and I just stuck to that, and I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me, I wasn’t going to let anybody hold me back, I wasn’t going to do anything to keep me from playing football whether it was grades or things outside football. So I think at a young age when I started playing at nine years old, I always knew I wanted to be a professional football player. and I love football so much that I just work hard at it. There’s a lot of kids who I played with growing up who were just as talented as me and who should be where I’m at today but because of a few decisions that they didn’t make, they didn’t do well in school or whatever it was, the focus wasn’t there. I truly believe that whatever you guys want to do, anything, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t have to be football, it can be anything, if you want to be that, don’t let anybody tell you you can’t be that. Don’t let anybody hold you back, don’t let anybody say that you can’t do it, it doesn’t matter. Times have changed and the sky is the limit for anybody, there’s no more barriers. You guys can dream big and keep those victories.
Kids: On Madden 15, do you just use your team or do you play with everybody?
RB: (Laughing) I play with everybody. I like to play with all of the players on all of the teams. I actually prefer to play with everyone else rather than play with my team and me.
Kids: What was the hardest thing you’ve had to do to get in the NFL?
RB: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I don’t think that there is one thing that was really hard, I think football is hard, in itself, as a sport, it’s not easy. It’s a tough sport, it’s a tough sport to play because it really tests your physical capabilities and your mental capabilities. I think just over time, just maintaining that focus from when I was a little kid all the way up until high school to college, up until the day when you’re out there training for the combine and pro day and all the scouts are out there watching, I think the hardest thing is just maintaining that focus when you’re a little kid. You don’t just wake up and get drafted, it’s difficult a process that goes into becoming an NFL player and it starts right now, you guys are kids now. It doesn’t start 10-15 years from now, it starts right now. You guys all kind of have an idea of what you want to do, right? Maybe you want to play basketball, maybe football. It starts now. It’s a life long process. I think the hardest thing is just maintaining focus and never allowing that focus to waiver or to get out of synch, keeping it all the way up until you hear your name called at that podium, until you walk up there and you’re holding a jersey, just maintaining that focus.
Kids: Who is your favorite teammate?
RB: Well, I think you guys had a chance to see a lot of guys out there today. All of those guys I’ve played with, actually there were one or two that I didn’t play with, but all of those guys out there are all my friends and some of them are retired, some of them play for other teams, I don’t think I have any teammates out here from the 49ers. I had some guys from the Saints, I had some guys from the Detroit Lions, I didn’t have any guys from the Miami Dolphins, but the thing that’s really cool about football is that those relationships, those friendships that you build, even now I’m still friends with some people, some kids from my Pop Warner days. Those friendships last forever. I still talk to my coaches from Pop Warner. I still talk to my high school coaches. So along the way when I was young, high school, college, NFL, little league, I made friends along the way and I still keep in contact with a lot of those guys. There were some guys out there today that you didn’t know, that I grew up with and played with, but there’s generations of friends, all because of football.
Kids: Who is the best player on your team?
Moderator: Besides you, of course!
RB: (laughing) I’ll go down the line of the teams I’ve played for. In New Orleans I got the chance to play with Drew Brees who you guys know, right? I think Drew is one of the hardest working men that I’ve ever been around. He’s very talented but he’s equally, if not more of, a hard worker. He’s just an overachiever. He’s always working, always working hard, always working on his craft, so he was one of my favorites to play with. I think in Miami, I got a chance to play with Brandon Marshall, who plays for the Jets now, and he was just a freak of nature, he’s tall, strong, fast. If you could build a prototypical football player, size, strength, speed, agility, everything, I think it would be Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson. Those two guys that I had a chance to play with are everything you wish you had, all in one player.
Kids: What was your favorite NFL team before you joined the NFL?
RB: I was actually a 49er fan growing up. We grew up big 49er fans. I was a 49er fan and a San Diego Chargers fan, obviously. I remember watching a lot of those guys, that Charger team that went to the Super Bowl and actually played the 49ers and lost. Some of my favorite players on that team were Natrone Means, Stan Humphries, obviously Junior Seau, one of my favorites of all times, just a great guy and a really, really good person and obviously a great athlete. They also had Rodney Harrison. Then on the 49ers, that was like a dream team, they had everybody. Yeah, those were my two favorite teams growing up.
Kids: If you could go back and play on any team, which one would it be?
RB: I think I would go back to high school. That’s when life was good, no taxes, no bills to pay (laughing), just wake up, go to school and have fun, play football. That’s the life right there. I really enjoyed high school and college a lot. I think there’s something a little different there. Once you get to the NFL there’s obviously the business side of it. It can be a little mentally wearing on guys, having to do it so long. I don’t want to get too in depth, you guys are still kids I still want you to have dreams of playing in the NFL (laughing). But yeah, I think high school and college were some of my favorite times of playing football.
Kids: What’s your favorite car?
RB: I more of an old school muscle car type of guy, so I like old american muscle cars. I have a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. That’s one of my favorite cars and I really like the 1970 Chevelle.
Kids: What’s your number on the 49ers?
RB: Number 23.
Kids: Why not 21?
RB: Well, I think they are going to retire 21 because of Frank Gore. He played there for 10 years and he’s a great player. I think he deserves it. I think he’s their leading rusher of all time, so I think they are going to retire number 21.
Kids: Have you ever gotten tackled by Richard Sherman?
RB: You know what? I’ve never actually played against Richard Sherman, no wait, we actually played Seattle when I was in Miami, it was either my first or second year there, I can’t remember. We played Seattle in Miami and we beat them. I don’t remember if Sherman was on the field though. They weren’t the Seattle Seahawks that they are now, I think they were one or two years away. That year I don’t think they went to the playoffs, but I gotta assume he was there. How many years has he been in the league?
Kids: Was Marshawn Lynch on the team then?
RB: You know that’s a good question, you’re really testing my memory today. I think so, I gotta believe that he was there. It was about four or five years ago. I think they were there.
No doubt that Sherman will leave a more lasting impression the next two times they meet.