Reggie Bush is back on the football field.
Not in pads, though.
Bush, the New Orleans Saints running back, and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware will cheer on the nation's high school football stars this weekend in the Red Bull Game Breakers National 7-on-7 Finals in Dallas.
"You don't think I have the itch to get out on the field?" asked Bush, a five-year veteran born and raised in California. "It's mid-July. That's when my itch always starts. You can smell it in the air. I'm ready for the lockout to end."
The NFL and the NFL Players' Association are currently in negotiations to install a new collective bargaining agreement before the 2011 season -- negotiations that have resulted in the decertification of the union and the start of a lockout. There has been progress this week, but still no deal.
"Watching these guys on the field has made me want to get back out there. Football is my sanctuary. It's my escape," said Bush, who still is hounded about the controversy of receiving benefits while at the University of Southern California. "I'm just trying to stay positive. Obviously it's a tough time for me and my family to go through all this still, but I need to keep a smile on my face, and that's by focusing on football."
So Bush, as part of his sponsorship deal with Red Bull, is in Dallas to root on the top 23 7-on-7 teams in the nation. More than 150 high school teams competed nationwide for the trip with those winning the shot from as far away as Pittsburgh and Miami.
The format of the 7-on-7 tournament is designed to reward points for both offensive and defensive plays. Using half the length of a traditional football field, teams can score points for each game-breaking moment, including first downs, touchdowns, PATs, interceptions, defensive stops and red zone stops.
"When I was in high school, we played a lot of 7-on-7 football, but we never had the opportunity to compete on a national level," said Bush, who went to high school in San Diego. "You now have the opportunity to see who is the best state. This tournament is something special."