While OLT Jermon Bushrod said he hopes to continue playing for the Saints, the lockout is keeping him from settling his contract situation heading into his fifth season. He's a free agent in limbo until the NFL and the NFL Players Association settle their differences.
It's a frustrating time for him, but the work stoppage has also given Bushrod the opportunity to focus on other priorities — ones that he said help take his mind off the labor dispute.
Bushrod is hoping to raise close to $12,000 as he hosts a charity golf tournament on Friday in his hometown, King George, Va. The proceeds from that event will go to book scholarships for local graduating student athletes who will attend college in the fall.
"For us to have that opportunity to give back to them and take the burden off their shoulders a little bit, it'll be a great feeling," Bushrod told PFW Tuesday. "Not just for myself, but for everyone taking part in it.
"Thank God for my health, family and friends and everyone for pulling it together because this is an extreme team effort to put your first golf tournament on. It's been a lot. But you know, with the situation that we have at hand right now with the lockout and all this mess that we're going through, it's given me some time to not only stay in shape like I need to, but put the time and effort into something like this."
On Saturday, Bushrod will be joined by some of his Saints teammates, Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith and some coaches from his alma mater, Towson University, as he co-sponsors the Visualize and Rize football camp at King George High School.
Growing up in King George, Bushrod said there were no events available like Saturday's camp. He wants to give back to the community he grew up in and has been encouraged by the response. Registration for the camp has been closed online, but he said they plan to admit those who didn't register before the deadline that show up on the day of the event — he's expecting as many as 300 kids to attend.
"You kind of get upset that you have to cut off (registration), but it's kind of a good problem to have," Bushrod said. "... With the amount of kids we have coming out this year, this is a whole new obstacle that we have to tackle, but we're all for it and it's all for a good cause."
While he's been heavily involved in the preparation for this weekend's activities, training and working to improve has taken up much of his time. He helped coach the offensive linemen at Towson during spring practice and has also participated in the Saints' player-organized workouts at Tulane University, which will resume Wednesday.
Some have questioned the quality of the workouts players are organizing around the league, but the Saints' practices, led by QB Drew Brees, are considered to among the most legitimate.
"We're getting a lot out of them," Bushrod said. "We're out there competing. We're not just going through the motions when we're out there training. We're going out there and we're fighting to get better. We're holding mock practices. No, it's not the same exact lineup that we would have if we were at the Saints' facility, but we're doing everything that we have to do to make sure we're where we need to be whenever they start training camp.
"We've been doing a good job. You can't mimic exactly what (the Saints are) going to do, but I tell you, we're pretty close."
As for his contract and negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bushrod said he's doing his best not to worry about it, although he's tuned in and monitoring negotiations and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which could soon rule on whether to lift the lockout or keep it in place. The Saints extended a second-round tender to him before the lockout began and he'll be a restricted free agent if the league operates under the same free-agency rules it did last season.
"I know what I want to happen, but I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I really just stopped putting a whole bunch of emphasis into it until we get something final going. We have to wait for this judge's ruling or ... we can hash it out within the next week or two before the ruling.
"That would be the ideal thing — if we had a new CBA and things would be back to normal."
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