Justice Served, Arian Foster Gets Paid (5 Years, $43.5 million)
4. Go into beast mode, preferably at the most important times.
To boil Arian Foster's 2011 season down to figuratively how big his pile of yards and stack of touchdowns were is missing the point on what makes him one of the elite backs in the game today, one of the few backs who rises above the NFL's trend of backfields by committee. It's not the "how much" with Foster, it's the "when."
In his first full game back from the hamstring injury, a bloodbath with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Texans were having trouble moving the ball in the second half when, out of nowhere, Foster had a "vintage Arian" type run, a 47-yard cutback against the grain in which Troy Polamalu was left face down gasping for air and Foster was left walking into the end zone. In the Texans' playoff win over the Bengals, it was Foster's 42-yard touchdown run (including a soul-crushing corkscrewing of Bengals safety Chris Crocker) that sealed the deal. In the Texans' playoff loss to the Ravens, it was Foster who ran for 132 yards and made play after play (including a ridiculous one-handed catch on a screen pass to keep a drive alive deep in Baltimore territory) when the Texans could get little else going. Those are a few examples. If you need more, go to YouTube. Put in "Arian Foster." You'll see he is two seasons into constructing his own wing there.
5. Stay humble, stay thoughtful.
When you talk to Arian Foster about kids' wearing his jersey, he is equal parts flattered and mindful, mindful that his number 23 jersey represents more than just the 120 yards and two touchdowns he put up that Sunday. Yes, he's a football payer, but he's a person, too. He's a free thinker whose love of poetry is well documented. He's one of the few athletes who are legitimately engaging and interesting in 140 character bites.
I'm fairly certain he doesn't hate anybody, although he does have a healthy disdain for "snipers" in Call of Duty. He knows he's one of the best in the game today, yet smiles like a little kid when you play a soundbite of Troy Polamalu specifically mentioning him by name. Yes, like many of us would, Arian Foster thinks it's cool that "Troy Polamalu knows who [he] is." If you want to see him really light up, get him talking about his young daughter Zeniah, who is two going on 20. He punctuates every touchdown with his trademark "Namaste" bow, "namaste" meaning "the God in me recognizes the God in you."
In short, while his ability to carry a football is the primary reason the Texans just made Arian Foster's grandkids wealthy, don't discount the overall brand Arian Foster represents. Character, hard work, intellect, fun. On many levels, this was a deal the Texans had to get done. To their credit, they did.
One of the coolest moments on my show on Yahoo! Sports Radio this past football season was the first show I did with Arian Foster. We had the legendary Jim Brown (a hero of Arian) call the program. The mutual respect was palpable, and it was the easiest ten minutes of radio I did all year -- all I did was sit back and watch two interesting people converse about duty, honor, family and respect.
When Foster asked Jim Brown for words of advice, this is what Brown said:
Don't neglect the game. Don't neglect the game, because when it's all over and done, the money will be important, but the way you played the game will be what people will remember about you. So don't let anyone keep you out of the game, and always give your best....the politics are very difficult sometimes. Sometimes even your own union doesn't represent you properly. Sometimes these things can be discouraging. But if you play the game hard, and give it all you have at all times, then these things have a way of working out.
Indeed, they do. Today, things worked out for Arian Foster.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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