Jeff Pearlman

  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon

Reuben Foster is the perfect NFL player

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 9.56.02 AM

Early this morning a new site asked me to write a piece on Reuben Foster. Then—after I finished it but before I submitted—the editor apologized and said they already had an article. So: 1. Fuck. 2. Here it is …

Two days ago, shortly after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers because of a second arrest involving physically abusive behavior toward a woman, Reuben Foster was claimed off waivers by the Redskins.

Now, there are haters out there on the Interweb who seem to believe adding a linebacker with a specialization in beating up females is somehow yet another black mark on the NFL. They say the league is callous and cold hearted. They say the league has shown minimal compassion and, when it comes to women, is all nonsense bluster.

To this, I offer a single number: 4.7.

Reuben Foster runs a 4.7 second 40-yard dash. That’s insanely fast, especially for a man who checks in at 6-feet and 229 pounds. He also has long arms (32 3/8 inches) and enormous hands (10 ¼ inches) and tallied 59 solo tackles in just 10 games as a rookie last year.

So, really, what were the Redskins—a team that desperately needs linebacker help—supposed to do?

Were they supposed to take a stand against domestic violence? Were they supposed to be morally righteous and decent? Were they supposed to speak up on behalf of women—while simultaneously filling the sidelines of every home game with scantily dressed, minimally paid “cheerleaders” who dance and gyrate like the finest Thee Dollhouse strippers in order to fulfill all of your adult entertainment needs?

It’s not every day a Reuben Foster becomes available on the open football market. And, besides, Washington is taking this matter very seriously. Before adding Foster, they took at least seven minutes to debate the matter in a session that certainly involved plenty of men. Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president of player personnel, said so in an adjective-and-verb-laced 79-word statement, noting that Reuben will have “meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the Burgundy and Gold” and that he “will have to go through numerous steps.”

Step 1: Arrive at the building.

Step 2: Get a uniform.

Step 3: Make sure the pants fit.

Step …

Truth be told, we need to start giving the entire National Football League a break. It’s not easy doing the right thing, especially when the right thing is so darn unprofitable. Remember, this is a league that spent decades denying the link between concussions and on-field collisions, then fought and fought (and still fights) to avoid paying its damaged veterans proper severances. Remember, this is a league that’s both 70-percent African-American and steadfastly against its players peacefully kneeling in protest of police violence against minorities. Remember, this is a league that employs quarterbacks named Mark Sanchez, Brandon Weeden, A.J. McCarron and Davis Webb—but Colin Kaepernick can’t land a gig. This is a league that makes an annual Disney-esque commotion about donating a percentage of its pink gear to charity—then gives a whopping 10 percent of the profits.

That’s why, as soon as word leaked that Foster—with the 49ers in Tampa last Saturday night for a game against the Buccaneers—allegedly slapped a phone out of a woman’s hand, pushed her in the chest and slapped her in the face (Police say a 1-inch scratch was observed on her left collarbone), it’s near-certainty that the majority of league execs weren’t thinking “Oh dear” or “Oh my” or “The horror.”

No.

Here was a potential opportunity to add a linebacker in his prime.

Here was an opportunity to win at all costs.

Here was a national champion at Alabama. Here was a difference-maker. Here was a superstar. Here was—according to Foster’s 2017 NFL Draft profile—a man gifted by “alpha mentality with ferocious hitting style.”

Hell, 4.7 doesn’t lie.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life