Brotherhood battles with his twin, Ryan, were part of his daily routine.
“It was everything from one-on-one (basketball) in the driveway to throwing the ball with each other—anything,” Busing said. “Everything we did was competitive. It could’ve been a game of checkers … you name it.
“Having that growing up was really special. And I definitely think that it put those competitive juices in me early. Being able to do that with my brother has kind of gone with me the rest of my life.”
A .500 winning percentage in the family ledger always inspired the two to play “just one more game.”
“For the most part, he’d win one, I’d win one,” Busing said. “We’d go back and forth all the time. That’s why we’d be playing best out of 50 games because we’d keep wanting to go one more, one more to see who could get that win. It was definitely very competitive.”
Those early household battles began in Johns Creek, Ga., where the Busing twins stood out at Chattahoochee High School. John played seven positions on the high school football team. Eventually they ventured off together to Miami (Ohio) to continue their college football careers.
Busing said, “Miami of Ohio was the only place that offered us both scholarships. One thing we wanted to do was continue to play together, so we went up there. I still had to go against him every day in practice. He was on the offensive side; I was on the defensive side.”
Busing was a linebacker for the Red Hawks, and his brother played wide receiver after beginning as a quarterback. Then, a player named Ben Roethlisberger changed the plan. With John earning first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors as a senior, leading the RedHawks with 97 tackles, he reinforced the success of his sophomore year, when he led all Division I linebackers with five interceptions.
After college, Ryan entered the corporate world in Atlanta and John began the grind as an undrafted NFL player. After spending three seasons with Cincinnati, he registered 32 tackles and an interception for the Texans in 2009. Busing gradually earned the coaches’ respect with his steady play at free safety and on special teams.
“I knew, coming in, that I’d be battling for a roster spot,” Busing said. “So I just worked through OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and training camp, trying to make myself valuable on special teams and on defense and make enough plays to stick around.
“It’s always been a fight. That’s the way it is for a lot of guys in this league. You get very few guys who are guaranteed spots,” he continued.
In the 2009 season opener against the New York Jets, Busing’s interception led to the Texans’ only score in a 24-7 loss. It was the first pick of his career. Two games later, he earned his first start as a Texans in a 31-24 loss to the Jaguars.
“He’s like a ball magnet,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s really sharp in the game. Everybody in the secondary trusts him.”
Busing made a career-high five tackles in his first start with the Texans. They say the NFL is all about seizing opportunities, and Busing has made the most of his in Houston.
“It was good knowing the coaches had the faith in me to give me a start, so I went out there with the mindset of putting in a lot of work,” he said. “If you’re not starting on defense, you’re gonna be expected to contribute on special teams, if not some smaller capacity on defense. So anytime I get a chance to go out there and play, whether it [is] on special teams, goal line, if we have any three-safety packages, you go out there and try to make the most of it.”
Busing has made his mark on special teams during his career. But given the chance, he also has shown a knack for getting to the ball on defense. He said he tries to hang his hat on being a sure tackler.
“We all trust him back there,” said unrestricted free-agent cornerback Dunta Robinson, Busing’s teammate in Houston last season.
Since he entered the league, Busing has had to earn his teammates’ trust. Talking to him, it sounds like he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a grind,” he said. “It’s a challenge. That’s why it’s hard to make a long career out of this sport. But having that challenge presented to you every day, and knowing you’ve got to go out there and make plays and prove yourself, keeps you sharp. I feel like it keeps you young, keeps you passionate about the game. That’s the part I enjoy the most.”