Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: West Houston
Section: My Living Room
Bush feels Texans fans' pain
Likely top pick awaits agreement, deflects questions about his parents
By JOHN MCCLAIN
NEW YORK - Running back Reggie Bush sympathizes with Houston fans who are angry and disappointed that the Texans are not going to select quarterback Vince Young with the first pick in Saturday's NFL draft.
Bush, who is at the center of a controversy involving a San Diego-area house his parents resided in, is expected to be chosen by the Texans.
"I feel for the fans," Bush said at a pre-draft news conference Thursday. "I know a lot of them wanted the Texans to draft Vince. I don't blame them. He's a great player, and Houston's his hometown. If I was a fan in Houston, I'd feel the same way.
"If San Diego had the first pick, I'd be in the same predicament. I definitely understand the situation. But the Texans have to do what they believe is best for the team."
Bush, Young, defensive end Mario Williams, quarterback Matt Leinart, offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and tight end Vernon Davis were invited to New York to participate in pre-draft events.
Owner Bob McNair, who also came to New York, wants the first pick to be signed before the Texans make it official Saturday at noon, Houston time.
McNair continued to insist Thursday that Williams, the highest-rated defensive prospect available, is still in the picture and could end up being the top pick if he agrees to a contract before the draft.
For the first time, Williams' agent, Ben Dogra, began to negotiate on behalf of his client.
Bush's agent, Joel Segal, has exchanged numerous proposals with vice president of administration Dan Ferens, the Texans' chief negotiator.
"I'm up to date on the negotiations," Bush said. "There's only one day left after today. I feel like if it's not done today that it probably won't get done by the time the draft starts.
"I'd like to sign on time so I can get to Houston, start working out, get to know my new teammates and coaches and get familiar with the city. But I can't sign at the expense of taking a pay cut."
Williams not worried
Over the last two days, the Texans have been negotiating with Williams as feverishly as they have with Bush.
"Maybe they're using me as leverage; I don't know," Williams said. "It's not frustrating to me. I'm not worried about it.
"Yeah, I think the Texans are interested in me, but I think New Orleans is more interested. Sure, I'd be happy to be taken first, but I just want to play for a team that wants to utilize my talent."
Ideally, the Texans will have a contract agreement with Bush or Williams by Saturday morning. If they don't, they want to be close enough to sign one of them shortly after the draft, avoiding a possible holdout.
"We believe we're making progress with both players," McNair said. "We'll continue to negotiate and hope to get a deal done with one of them."
The Texans could have a deal in place as early as today.
"We're competing to be the No. 1 pick," Bush said of himself and Williams. "Everybody seems to think I'm going to be the No. 1 pick, but nothing's guaranteed in this business.
"I'd like to play for the Texans. I'm hoping to be the top pick. I feel good about it. It would be a dream come true. But if it doesn't happen, I understand that it's a business. I'd be disappointed, but I can deal with it."
Bush knows the Texans want him to bolster an offense that has David Carr at quarterback.
"I like to think that my athleticism, my versatility, would help David Carr and the offense," he said. "Because I'm a runner and receiver, I can give Carr different options. I know what I'm capable of doing."
Flood of questions
At the news conference, Bush was bombarded with inquiries about the controversy involving his parents and the house they resided in for a year until moving out last weekend.
The family's living arrangement is being investigated by the NCAA and Pac-10.
"I spoke with the Texans about it," Bush said. "I don't think they have any concerns about it."
The Texans are satisfied with Bush's explanation.
"It's not going to play a role in what we do," general manager Charley Casserly said Wednesday. "I've talked to Reggie, and I've talked to his mom. We haven't found anything to influence our decision."
That's good news for Bush, who hasn't had a lot of good news this week.
"I'm here to talk about football," Bush said. "I don't want to address the controversy right now."
I highlighted certain quotes for all the people who have been whining that he isn't wetting himself with quotes about love for Houston.