- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Reggie Bush insists he was only joking when he stirred up fans with posts on his Twitter account about enjoying free time during the NFL lockout.

Bush drew critical responses from a number of his nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers when he posted: “Everybody complaining about the lockout! Shoot I’m making the most of it! Vacation, rest, relaxing, appearances here and there! I’m good!”

Bush then added in a second post moments later: “Right about now we would be slaving in 100 degree heat, practicing twice a day, while putting our bodies at risk for nothing.”

The timing of the posts heightened criticism of Bush because the flashy running back has been absent from workouts organized by quarterback Drew Brees, which have drawn several dozen Saints players to Tulane’s football facilities.

Brees said he organized the workouts to promote team unity and give the Saints a competitive advantage when NFL labor strife eventually ends, but did not begrudge anyone who chose to continue working out on their own.

After some of Bush’s fans were less forgiving, Bush posted another message that read: “FYI last tweet was a joke! Relax people damn it’s called sense of humor! Cry me a river why don’t you…”

The Twitter exchange marked the second time Bush had made waves with a post since the NFL draft. Shortly after the Saints made a first-round trade to draft Alabama running back and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Bush tweeted: “It’s been fun New Orleans,” before later posting another message welcoming Ingram to the team.

All of the posts have come at a time when Bush’s future with the Saints is unclear. Bush is heading into the final season of a contract worth about $11.8 million for 2011, and the Saints expect him to take a pay cut this season.

Bush initially expressed a willingness to negotiate with New Orleans in the days after the Saints were eliminated from last season’s playoffs. However, he has not addressed the matter publicly in recent months, other than in his Twitter post during the draft in which he hinted he felt his time in New Orleans was up.

Bush’s comments could end up being fodder for the league during the lockout.

Attorneys on both sides of the fight have routinely used comments from the other side in their arguments.

On May 2 the NFL cited Pro Bowl players Ray Lewis and Wes Walker in suggesting some players were all too happy to have the extra time off.

Welker said recently at a youth football camp, “Let’s do a lockout every year,” according to the NFL’s filing, a statement he preceded with an in-all-seriousness assessment of the unscheduled respite forced by the lockout.

Said Lewis after an autograph signing, according to the league: “To me, this is probably the greatest window of opportunity I’ve ever had in my life. It’s been 25 years of my life that I’ve never had a summer to myself.”