By Ryan Mayer
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has never been afraid to speak his mind. The seven-year NFL vet has spoken out on a variety of topics throughout his career and one of the main ones has been player health. He joined Michael Rapaport’s “I Am Rapaport” podcast on CBS Radio’s Play.it network on Friday to discuss a wide variety of topics, one of the first on tap was the concussion conversation surrounding the sport. Specifically, that players knew what they were getting into when they started playing the sport.
“That’s actually a big misconception that goes on,” said Foster. “In my generation of NFL football players, we get it a lot. Because we’ll say we’ll fight for player rights, fight for this or that, and the rebuttal is ‘oh well you knew what you were getting into’. We didn’t as far as the concussion stuff is, we didn’t. The science on it wasn’t concrete until about 5-6 years ago. Now, we know, but I was already knee-deep in it and I was already still trying to fix up my family so that’s what I was doing. The younger generation, growing up, they know what they’re getting into. We did not know what we were getting into. We knew as far as the physicality of the game and it was going to hurt our shoulders and our knees, but as far as brain injuries? We were not aware of how big a consequence it could be.”
With the greater awareness of the impact of head trauma and concussions on athlete’s later in life, we’ve begun to see players retire earlier in their careers. Foster said he thinks that will continue to be the case.
“Once you make a certain amount of money in the NFL–you have to remember why guys play NFL football. Most of these guys, I would say the majority, 60-70% of them come from low income housing, they come from the ghettos, and they’re just trying to make a way out,” said Foster. “Once you get a certain amount where your family is stable, what are you playing for? I can’t explain to the average NFL consumer how it feels waking up after a game where you get 30 carries. I’m limping to my bathroom.”
Pressed further on that topic, Foster gave a detailed memory he has of waking up after a game against Chicago back in 2012 in which he had 29 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.
“It was 2012, I remember it vividly. We played Chicago at Chicago and it was raining,” said Foster. “They have one of the worst fields when it’s raining, the footing is terrible, so we couldn’t throw the ball. This is when we were a run-heavy offense when we went 12-4 and I got 29 carries. I remember waking up the next morning not being able to walk to the bathroom. My bathroom is 15 steps from my bed. It literally took me probably 3 minutes to get to my bathroom. I couldn’t move.”
Foster has been particularly outspoken about the league having Thursday night games as a part of the schedule.
“That’s another thing I said that I caught a lot of flak for. The NFL and the whole, they’re all about player safety, that’s all bull****,” said Foster. “If they really gave a s*** about us, they would not have Thursday night games.”
The one-on-one with Foster wasn’t all serious, the guys did have some fun. In the latter half of the podcast, Rapaport asked Foster what it’s like to be at the bottom of the pile when trying to recover a fumble and what the crazy thing that’s happened to him was. That led to this back-and-forth.
Foster: It gets weird, man. It gets weird. I’ve had a guy, uh, grab my nuts before.
Rapaport: And he might not have been…
Foster: No, he knew it was my nut.
Rapaport: He knew?
Foster: Yeah, he was looking at me. I will not name names either, but it was weird.
Rapaport: Did you have the fumble?
Foster: Nah, I was just down, when you’re down sometimes dudes just pile on you. Some guys take cheap shots, I’ve had guys try to twist my ankle, punch me in the ribs, choke me, poke me in the eye, anything goes man. Which is weird to me, I don’t understand it. I just feel like, man, who are you doing this for? Are you doing this for your owner? Like, why are you doing this to me? It’s not that serious. We’re all just out here trying to feed our families man. Yeah, I play for the Texans and you play for so and so, but I don’t want to hurt you like that. Some guys are just wired differently.
Then, Rapaport asked him who Foster hated to line up against. His response? The 2010 Ravens.
“I had that feeling one time in my career. It was 2010 when Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, when that defense, was like, that defense,” said Foster. “I had that one time. The prestige of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and that was my first year as a starter.”
You can listen to the full podcast above.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.