One was a superstar before he ever put on a Saints' uniform.
The other was as unknown as the college he attended.
They arrived in New Orleans at the same time, taking different routes to get here.
But Reggie Bush and Marques Colston — who were announced Wednesday as the latest inductees into the Saints Hall of Fame — had one thing in common: They both knew that the city they were about to call home needed them.
One was the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Colston knew it the moment he drove down Airline Drive to the team's facility in 2006 and saw the ravaged landscape.
"Seeing the aftermath of Katrina, you instantly feel like this is bigger than football," he said.
Bush knew it as soon as he arrived in the city and took a trip through the 9th Ward.
"Right away, I felt this sense of responsibility to give it 110 percent every day every time I stepped on the field," he said. "To at least do my very best to bring this city, this organization, a Super Bowl. Fast forward to four years later and we were able to do that. I truly believe that everybody who came to this team during that time period was brought here for a purpose: to help restore hope to the people by doing what we do best."
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Fittingly, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco was honored alongside Bush and Colston on Wednesday. She was the recipient of the Joe Gemelli "Fleur de Lis" Award, which recognizes individuals who make significant contributions to the team.
Blanco, who served as governor from 2004 to 2008, lobbied the Legislature to pay for repairs to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The restoration of the Dome helped bring football back to New Orleans for Bush and Colston's rookie season.
The pair, both key components of the Saints' only Super Bowl team, will be honored at a Hall of Fame ceremony on Oct. 25.
It'll put the exclamation point on the careers of two of the most exciting players in team history.
The city fell in love with Bush as soon as fans realized the Saints had a chance to draft him, thanks to the fact that the Houston Texans decided to choose Mario Williams instead of the Heisman Trophy winner out of Southern Cal.
It didn't take Coach Sean Payton long to realize he had a star on his hands, from the rapid increase in ticket sales to the chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" when they went to dinner at Emeril's.
"This was like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson," Payton said. "Seriously, that's how big it was. On a 10 Richter scale, the selection of Reggie Bush was a 9.9 for this organization."
Colston, meanwhile, barely moved the needle. At least at first.
But after a so-so rookie camp, the receiver from Hofstra University steadily improved and earned a spot on the roster, where he rewrote the Saints' record book in his 10 seasons in New Orleans. His 711 career receptions and 9,759 receiving yards are both franchise records.
"There was the consistency and professionalism of knowing exactly what you were going to get, week in and week out," Payton said of Colston, who turned 36 on Wednesday.
Bush, meanwhile, played five seasons with the Saints.
The versatile running back rushed for 2,090 yards and 17 touchdowns to go with his 2,142 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Bush, the first draft pick of the Payton era, also scored four touchdowns on punt returns.
"An amazing dynamic playmaker," Payton said. "He was a huge part of what we built here just from the very foundation of getting started. It was a big deal to our city to be able to select Reggie Bush."
Bush says he loves New Orleans just as much as New Orleans loves him. He says it will always have a place in his heart.
"People say the city needed me, but I needed the city just as much," Bush said. "I was going through some stuff in my life, so I needed to come to a place like this where I could have this unique opportunity to make an impact on people's lives. I hope the fashion that we did it to win the Super Bowl will never have to be done again, because that would mean another city would have to go through that devastation."
In the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, then-Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco made a somewhat unpopular decision.
While Bush and Colston want to be appreciated for what they did inside the Dome, they also want to be remembered for their efforts outside of it.
"To be able to play a small role in that resurgence and have the opportunity to interact with people and understand the impact you made on their lives," Colston said, "there's no feeling in the world like that."
HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
1988 | Archie Manning and Danny Abramowicz
1989 | Tommy Myers and Tom Dempsey
1990 | Billy Kilmer
1991 | Tony Galbreath and Derland Moore
1992 | George Rogers, Jake Kupp and John Hill
1993 | Joe Federspiel
1994 | Henry Childs and Jim Finks
1995 | Doug Atkins and Bob Pollard
1996 | Dave Whitsell and Dave Waymer
1997 | Stan Brock and Rickey Jackson
1998 | Dalton Hilliard and Sam Mills
1999 | Bobby Hebert and Eric Martin
2000 | Pat Swilling and Vaughan Johnson
2001 | Jim Wilks and Hoby Brenner
2002 | Jim Mora and Frank Warren
2003 | Jim Dombrowski and Wayne Martin
2004 | Rueben Mayes and Steve Sidwell
**2005 | No induction due to Hurricane Katrina
2006 | Joel Hilgenberg
2007 | Joe Johnson
2008 | William Roaf
2009 | Morten Andersen
2010 | Joe Horn
2011 | Sammy Knight
2012 | Tom Benson and Deuce McAllister
2013 | La’Roi Glover
2014 | Aaron Brooks and John Carney
2015 | Tyrone Hughes and Michael Lewis
2016 | Will Smith
2017 | Jonathan Vilma and Carl Nicks
2018 | Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas
2019 | Reggie Bush, Marques Colston
JOE GEMELLI FLEUR DE LIS AWARD RECIPIENTS
1989 | Al Hirt
1990 | Joe Gemelli (award later named for him)
1991 | Dave Dixon
1992 | Charlie Kertz
1993 | Wayne Mack
1994 | Erby Aucoin
1995 | Aaron Broussard
1996 | Marie Knutson
1997 | Angela Hill
1998 | Joe Impastato
1999 | Frank Wilson
2000 | Bob Remy
2001 | Peter “Champ” Clark
2002 | Dean Kleinschmidt
2003 | Jim Fast
2004 | Bob Roesler
2005 | No inductees due to Hurricane Katrina
2006 | Buddy Diliberto
2007 | New Orleans Saints fans (Marcy Beter)
2008 | Barra Birrcher
2009 | Jerry Romig
2010 | Dan Simmons and Glennon “Silky” Powell
2011 | Bruce Miller
2012 | Jim Henderson
2013 | Pete Finney
2014 | Al Nastasi and Tony Piazza
2015 | Doug Thornton
2016 | Hokie Gajan
2017 | Jay Romig
2018 | Michael C. Hebert
2019 | Kathleen Blanco