NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Reggie Bush wanted to get away from football for a while to - as he put it - relax and be normal.
Of course, when talking about a rising NFL star who has the looks, charisma and wealth to complement his mesmerizing talent, normal is a relative term.
B singer Ciara's music videos, dining with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a White House correspondent's dinner, filming a commercial with David Beckham in Spain, an appearance in Las Vegas during NBA All-Star weekend, partying at the Playboy mansion and otherwise enjoying life in his $5 million Hollywood home.
On Tuesday, the native Californian was back in New Orleans, where most of his teammates have been working out together for over a month.
The Saints gave their young star some leeway to enjoy the trappings of his first offseason as a pro, and Bush confidently predicted they wouldn't regret it.
``I expect to improve on last year,'' Bush said. ``I don't have a number, but I definitely expect to be a lot better than last year and help my team get to the Super Bowl.''
The Saints came one victory shy of reaching the Super Bowl last season, appearing in an NFC championship game for the first time in the franchise's four-decade history.
Bush played no small part in that. As both a running back and receiver, he gained over 1,300 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season. As he adapted to the speed and complexity of the NFL, the uncanny quickness and agility that helped him win the Heisman Trophy at Southern California began to show itself.
There was the 65-yard touchdown on a punt return against Tampa Bay in midseason, the 65-yard score on a screen pass at Dallas in December. And in the playoffs, there was the 88-yard touchdown in Chicago, during which he grabbed a short pass, outran numerous pursuers while cutting across the entire width of the field, pointed back triumphantly at linebacker Brian Urlacher, and then launched into a forward somersault across the goal line.
Performances like that only increased the attention he received during the past few months, and it wasn't always to his liking.
He said he enjoyed attending a party at the Playboy mansion, where it seemed to him that he was asked to be in more photos than many of the women there. Soon after, however, a Los Angeles publication reported he had been banned from the mansion for an unspecified conduct violation, which Bush denied.
``I don't even know where or what happened or why somebody would even ... write a story like that,'' Bush said. ``I was at the Playboy mansion ... I had a great time and that's really all it was.''
Bush chalked it up as a lesson of how difficult it can be for celebrities to control rumors.
``The story's already out there, so what are you going to do?'' Bush said. ``It's the way of the world and I've learned to just grow thick skin toward it and not play into it and just live my life the way I have been.''
Bush, who first returned to New Orleans late last weekend, said he had one more short trip out of town planned this week before rejoining teammates here on Monday for offseason workouts leading up to minicamp in June.
It will mark the end of a lot of recent traveling. His trip to Spain also was his first trip to Europe.
Scheduling preventing him from seeing a soccer game, but he did catch a bull fight, which gave him a new perspective on showmanship and contact sports.
``Just seeing how close the bulls come to almost killing these guys, you know, it's a different type of sport,'' Bush said.
With a self-effacing laugh, Bush acknowledged the matadors, ``didn't point at the bull.''
As for the rest of his offseason, Bush said being in a music video is something he's glad he tried once, but won't be inclined to do again.
``That was a great experience but it's just something that's not for me,'' Bush said.
``I'm done with basketball, too,'' he added, a reference to his appearance in a celebrity game in Las Vegas, during which he twisted his ankle.
Bush said the ankle is fine now and he is in excellent shape because of a new workout regimen he began in Los Angeles last February. It's called fre flo do (pronounced FREE-flow-doe), which Bush described as a Chinese-inspired type of training that builds strength with exercises focused on flexibility, quickness and endurance.
Like a number of new-age physical fitness genres that seem to thrive in California, fre flo do also has a meditative and spiritual component.
Bush said he likes it because it plays to his strengths as an athlete.
``You know, some of my plays last longer than the average play, so I'm trying to simulate that ... going beyond the average time within a workout,'' he said.
Going into his second season, Bush already plays well beyond the level of an average running back. But when addressing his expectations for this season, he didn't want to talk about yardage and touchdowns.
``I've never been big on setting personal goals. The only thing I care about is Super Bowls,'' Bush said. ``Your legacy is based on championships - how many championships you win - and you remember guys like Michael Jordan and Walter Payton and even a Tom Brady. That's the kind of caliber athlete I want to be remembered as. So that's what I shoot for when I'm training.''

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