Reggie Bush: 18-Year-Olds Aren't Physically Ready for NFL; 'You Can Get Killed'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

Former NFL player Reggie Bush prepares for an episode of Thursday Night Football postgame show after an NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Eagles won 34-13. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Few players in college football history were as talented as star USC running back Reggie Bush, but even he thinks he wasn't ready for the NFL at 18 years old.

Bush addressed the idea of players leaving either straight from high school or college in less than three years to enter the NFL draft and said, "NOBODY is physically mature enough at 18 years old to play in the NFL with grown men." He also referenced a hard hit he took during his rookie season when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints:

Reggie Bush @ReggieBush

Let me be clear on this, NOBODY is physically mature enough at 18 years old to play in the NFL with grown men! This isn’t basketball, no offense, this is different. You can get killed on the field if you are not physically ready! https://t.co/8PbQefOkt9

Reggie Bush @ReggieBush

I think the whole world by now has seen my welcome to the NFL Moment vs Eagles in Divisional Round playoffs 2006. An 18 year old could be paralyzed or die if they got hit like that no 🧢 https://t.co/7HZ5MeeBOe

"You would be signing your son's death certificate," he said in response to another tweet.

Bush's comments come after Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh wrote an open letter to the "college football community" suggesting players should be allowed to leave college for the NFL in less than three years. 

Harbaugh also said those who are not drafted should be allowed to come back to college, per Dan Murphy of ESPN.

"There are 'early bloomers' capable of competing in the NFL and earning a livelihood at an earlier age," Harbaugh wrote in the letter. "The goal would be to create a scenario that makes adjustments for all current and future student‐athletes that puts the timeline for transition to professional football at their discretion and that of their family. I propose an option that allows them to make the decision that is best for them."

Bush was an electrifying college football player who won a national championship and the Heisman Trophy at USC, although the honors were stripped as part of the NCAA's punishment against the school.

He was a solid NFL playmaker who surpassed 1,000 rushing yards twice in his 11 seasons with the Saints, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.

The running back had firsthand experience at dominating in the college level and playing a long career in the NFL and made a point of differentiating the physical nature of football from basketball.

The topic of basketball players being allowed to enter the NBA draft after high school instead of playing in college for one year has been at the forefront again since the NBA G League opened up a new one-year alternative where top prospects will be paid, but the physical nature of football is enough to convince Bush the current system is better than 18-year-olds in the NFL.