We thought Houston Texans running back Arian Foster had graduated from childish, immature interview tactics such as speaking to the media in dinosaur language in college or annoyingly repeating the same answers to different media questions, as he did last week.
We were wrong about those, but maybe ESPN's Hannah Storm has charmed Foster into maturing back into the sixth-year pro who turns 28 in a few weeks. Foster told Storm on Monday that he considered retirement following the back injury he suffered last season that shut him down.
"Any time an athlete goes through an injury like that — a back, a neck, even knees or hips, something that puts you out for the entire season — you kind of re-evaluate your life," Foster said. "You see what's really important. Is getting paralyzed more important than playing with your grand kids when you’re 50, 60 years old. People die on the football field. This is a really brutal sport. Going through an injury like that, being 27 years old, I’m young, still I’m at the prime of my career. Is it worth it to try to come back?"
Foster went on to say that he knew the injury was not of the garden variety when it occured.
"Initially when it happened, you know it wasn't just a regular injury that you play through," Foster said. "It happened just like on a simple routine. I cut and I just felt like my back, this little slip. It was awkward. I tried to play the next play with it too, but I couldn’t even lift my knees."
Does this scare you, fantasy owners? It scared Foster — especially the unknown factor of it.
"Because you don’t know what it is, especially with a back. A spine injury," he said. "You can be paralyzed, that’ll change the course of your life forever. Those are the kinds of thoughts that run through your head."
What resonated the most was seeing former Houston Oilers back Earl Campbell in a state of advanced wear recently, and Foster said it hit home as far as considering just how long he'll play for.
“Looking at him in a wheelchair and seeing how some of the effects from football are affecting him today, and you’re just looking at what really matters here," Foster said. "I’m going to walk away when I want to. I’m going to be the best … I can be and you’re going to like what you see. That’s the mindset I’ve taken, and that’s the mindset I’ve carried this entire offseason.”
Foster has returned to practice in the past week, but he was not on the field Monday — pulled out because of an undisclosed injury. The Texans are an offense hanging in the balance, and with no defined Plan B behind Foster in the backfield — and with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback — it's difficult to project just how prolific they'll be on the scoreboard this season.
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Beyond that, Foster's brilliant career arc has to now be a concern given the way injuries have appeared to just travel up his body — from his feet and ankles, to his calves and hamstrings, and now to his back. They're all related.
We hope he enjoys a healthy season and a post-career health, whenever he decides to hang up his cleats. We also hope he realizes that if he's this transparent and this earnest in the remainder of his interviews, people can better connect to and share his concern for his own well-being.
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