Reggie Bush Exclusive: NFL Star Talks El Clasico, Cristiano Ronaldo, Free Agency
To celebrate Bush's 28th birthday on Saturday, Red Bull flew Bush across the Atlantic to Spain to take in one of soccer's most heated and celebrated rivalries. It's called El Clasico, and it pits FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi against Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
Real Madrid won Saturday's match 2-1 at their Estadio Bernabeu, but they couldn't stop Messi from scoring his La Liga-best 39th goal of the season. Bush tweeted from the game, at one point remarking how Messi made the game "look easy."
After the match, Bush caught up with Bleacher Report world football lead writer Michael Cummings to talk soccer, El Clasico, Ronaldo, Messi, college football and free agency. Along the way, Bush also gave a progress report about his growing family.
After starring for USC at the college level, Bush entered the league in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints and joined the Miami Dolphins in 2011. He is a free agent this offseason.
Here's what Bush had to say.
Bleacher Report: Happy late birthday! So, how did you end up in Spain for a soccer match for your birthday?
Reggie Bush: Well, I wanted to go. I hadn't been to a soccer game before, and I'm a huge soccer fan, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to go. And Red Bull thought it would be a good opportunity to bring me out for my birthday and just show me a good time.
BR: How long have you been a soccer fan? When did you get into it?
RB: I've been into soccer for a long time now. I would say as long as I've been in the NFL, maybe seven or eight years.
BR: What were your first impressions of Spain, the game and the atmosphere in the stadium?
RB: It was a cool atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. It kind of reminded me of a college football game, just in the sense of how the fans have their chants and they have a section that's always shouting and chanting the whole game. It kind of reminded me of the student section at a college football game—they're very similar, the energy level.
BR: You got to see Lionel Messi score and Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post.
RB: Yeah, that (Messi's goal) was right in front of us. We got to watch that.
BR: What was it like watching Messi and Ronaldo in person?
RB: They looked fast. When they got the ball and attacked you could see the change in speed and how much faster they were than their opponent.
The thing that stood out to me most was the time of possession for Barcelona. It was just like playing keep-away the whole game, and then they had a few breakdowns in their defense and that's when Real Madrid was able to score two goals.
BR: I understand you got to meet a few players afterwards? Which ones, and what was that like?
RB: I met the whole Real Madrid team and got a chance to meet Messi. It was very cool. They're normal, regular guys, just like us—professional athletes, just in a different environment.
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world, and at the same time Real Madrid is one of the biggest franchises in soccer. These guys are really great athletes, and it was just cool to meet them but at the same time try to realize that they're similar athletes as we are but just in a different environment, a different sport.
BR: What if you played soccer—what position would you want to play?
RB: Definitely striker. Strikers to me are—I don't want to say athletes, because all the guys are athletes—but they're the ones that are attacking and scoring goals. And they're usually the most athletic of the guys on the team. They're the guys scoring goals, scoring points, and it kind of reminds me of being a running back.
BR: Cristiano Ronaldo has some size and speed. Do you think he could have made it in the NFL?
RB: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, he definitely could. He's about 6'1", 6'2", and he's fast. He could definitely make the NFL. That would be interesting to see. If there's ever a possibility, he should just come out and do some football drills and stuff.
BR: Let's talk NFL. What's next for you in 2013?
RB: I'm a free agent this year, so I'm still in the process of finding out which teams are interested, where am I gonna end up, or if I'll be in Miami. Or if not, that's the next biggest thing.
And the birth of my child, as well. My fiancee is almost eight months pregnant now.
BR: Congratulations! Heading into free agency, what's something you can improve in your game?
RB: There's always room for improvement. No matter how good of an athlete you are, there's always room for improvement, so I'll just try to improve in all phases of my game on and off the field. And just being better and learning from the past two seasons in Miami and taking that and trying to learn from that.
BR: What's the first thing you'll do when you get back to America?
RB: It's been a long and quick trip—long as in distance and for a short period of time—so I'll probably just jump in the bed and rest. And then get to working out, start getting back in shape and get my body ready for next season.
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