Pro-Bowl back Arian Foster talks with SLAM.
by Quinn Peterson
One of the biggest surprises of the 2010-2011 NFL season was the league’s leading rusher. Not Adrian Peterson. Not Steven Jackson. Not Chris Johnson. Instead, it was the Houston Texans’ hardworking Arian Foster. Undrafted coming out of Tennessee in 2009, the second-year back finally got the call in 2010. Recently, SLAM got the chance to catch up with the All-Pro running back at his agent’s office in Chicago to talk about his breakout year and looming lockouts in the NFL and NBA.
“It was a long season, man,” he said reflecting on his 1,616-yard, 16-touchdown season. “A lot building up to it. I got my opportunity late last year [in '09-10]. They decided they liked what they saw, wanted to see some more of me, so they gave me the opportunity, told me I had a chance to start in training camp. They said we were going to battle for positions, so it was me, Steve Slaton and Ben Tate. Slaton had already had prestige in the league and Ben Tate was drafted in the second round, so I guess I was the dark horse. Just a lot of hard work, man, persistence, being committed throughout the season. Six months later, here we are.”
Of course, six months from now, who knows where the NFL will be. What already looked grim took a turn for the worst at midnight on Saturday, just after hours after I rapped with Foster. Unable to come to an agreement after weeks of deliberation, labor negotiations were broken off and NFL owners locked out their players. What comes next is uncertain. For Foster, he realizes the situation is out of his hands.
“They keep us in the dark, man,” Foster calmly commented while snacking on some Fulton’s On The River fries. “I keep myself in the dark. I don’t really watch too much TV, because there’s nothing I can do. Roger Goodell is not calling for Arian Foster’s opinion on the matter. I don’t pay attention to it. If they figure it out, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. I’ll be ready either way.
“That’s what I’ve learned in this life, man. You can only control what you can control. So master that, and you’ll be alright.”
While it’s certainly not comforting to not know if you’ll be working or not, Foster isn’t letting the ambiguity eat away at him.
“Yeah, it is [frustrating]. But a lot of thing’s are frustrating,” he said. “Taxes, traffic. I mean, they just had a tsunami in Japan. That kind of puts things in perspective, like, it’s not that serious. I think everybody takes themselves too serious. We’re here threatening thousands of jobs … all because whoever or whatever wants a little extra money. It’s funny to me.”
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson — who runs a 4.24 40 — recently said he might look to take up track. (Granted, he may have been joking.) Foster has no plans of such an alternative.
“I ain’t running track,” he quipped. “I’m just gonna enjoy my little daughter. Get to spend a lot more time with her if there isn’t a season, so that’s what I’d do.”
“I can’t control it, I’ll wait for them to settle their differences, and I’ll be here whenever they’re ready.”
As the state of the NFL remains up in the air, NBA fans and players hope their league doesn’t fall to the same fate. Just as he’s in the dark about the NFL situation, he doesn’t know a whole lot about the future of the NBA, either.
“Not really, man,” he said in response to a question of whether he talked to anybody in the L about a potential lockout. “I’m not really in contact with anybody in the NBA. I know players but I don’t know them, so no, I haven’t. Shoutout to Kobe, though.”
His mindset is similar to that of the Lakers superstar, which is why he admires the 15-year vet.
“I respect greatness, in all walks of life. If you’re the greatest pilot, and it’s evident that you’re just leaps and bounds the best pilot on this earth, I respect that and I admire that, because it takes a certain amount of dedication and work ethic to get to where you wanna get. That’s what I see in Kobe, the passion that he plays the game with. It’s inspiring to watch. A lot of people call him arrogant, but I think people that call him arrogant are insecure.”
For more hoops talk with Arian Foster, be sure to check out an upcoming issue of SLAM when we’ll feature him in our Dime Drop section.