ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Like everyone else a few days before the 2006 NFL draft, Reggie Bush thought he would be moving to Texas. As the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, the electric running back figured he would be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Then Houston stunned everyone and the night before the draft hinted that Mario Williams, not Bush, would be the No. 1 overall selection.
"I was preparing to go to Houston, and we found out the same way everybody else found out, on SportsCenter,” Bush said. "That was that. That was my first real introduction to the business side of football.
"I got an introduction really quick."
It was that same night, on the eve of the draft, that Sean Payton called his quarterback, Drew Brees, and told him "I think we are going to get this guy."
Bush’s presence gave the New Orleans Saints a dynamic offensive weapon to add to a backfield that included starter Deuce McAllister at the time. It helped open up the New Orleans offense, and they couldn’t really believe their luck.
Bush fell right into their plans, giving them a game-breaking running back who could catch passes out of the backfield.
"Pure excitement," Brees said. "I think mainly because nobody thought that was even an option."
On Sunday, Bush will face his former team for the first time since being traded to Miami prior to the 2011 season for safety Jonathan Amaya and a swap of sixth-round picks.
The marriage between Bush and the Saints lasted five seasons and one Super Bowl before the team drafted another former Heisman Trophy winner, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, all but signaling Bush’s departure from New Orleans.
Payton said this week that he called Bush before the trade happened. Bush called the decision to pursue a trade and leave New Orleans "a mutual decision" and soon enough Bush was on to Miami and then, eventually, Detroit.
"It was nothing that was unexpected," Bush said. "I don’t have any bitterness toward the team or anybody. It’s part of the business side, the business side of our sport.
"Sometimes it can be ugly, but at the end of the day we all sign on the dotted line and we understand how it works."
Not only will Sunday be the first time Bush faces the team that drafted him, it’ll likely be the first time he talks with Payton since the trade. Bush said Friday the two have exchanged messages through other people but have not spoken directly – but that he plans on talking to him at some point Sunday.
In Bush’s five seasons in New Orleans, he played in 60 games, ran for 2,090 yards and 17 touchdowns, and caught 294 passes for 2,142 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the four seasons since he left the Saints, he has played in 50 games, rushed for 4,475 yards and 17 touchdowns, and caught 152 passes for 1,236 yards and six touchdowns.
He also had the first two 1,000-yard rushing seasons of his career after he left the Saints -- including last season with the Lions.
"He's someone that obviously was an important player for us," Payton said. "Whenever you're able to win a championship, and we were able to with that team in 2009, at that point it validates every selection, every trade, and every signing that brought you to that moment."
Bush, though, tried to downplay facing his former team Sunday -- even if he and another former Saints player, Isa Abdul-Quddus, are two of the team’s captains this week. And Bush acknowledged that it is probably no coincidence he was named a captain this week against New Orleans.
His head coach is pretty savvy like that, but Bush wants to treat it like a typical game -- but acknowledged if the game were in New Orleans instead of Detroit, the approach would be a bit different.
"I’m not going to try and make it more than that, because we still have a job to do and I don’t want to get caught trying to do too much," Bush said. "I think learning from experience in the past, when I’ve tried to do too much, it never really works out the way you want it to and you end up making a few mistakes.
"So for me, I’m going to go into the game with the same mindset I do every game."
All that will change is the opponent on the other side will look very familiar.