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Reuben Foster's Fall From Grace

Image Credit: (Sergio Estrada/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin:

Twitter: @nicholasmullick

I remembered a few years ago when I was in High School starting to get into watching college football. I wanted to see potential future stars perform before they even got into the NFL. If you think of college football a majority of people would easily name The University of Alabama for how successful the program is and a majority of players/prospects being a part of the NFL. One player who I thought was going to be a franchise player in the NFL was linebacker Reuben Foster. If you look at his many performances the talent was there, but his career off the field was filled with off-the-field problems. So I thought why not look into his career in football from his heights in the NCAA to his fall in the NFL.

College Career

Foster was a 5-star recruit coming out of High school and there were many that wanted to recruit Foster. Foster originally chose to play at Auburn University, but due to head coach Gene Chizek getting fired along with other coaches, he decided not to go there. I bet Reuben regrets getting that Auburn tattoo as they are a rival of Alabama which would be the college Foster chose. It was the right choice as keep in mind he had an opportunity at the starting role as C.J. Mosley was going to the NFL soon. Although the role went to Reggie Ragland he put up a strong few seasons for Alabama. He was unstoppable during his junior and senior years and was clearly one of the best linebackers at the time. In 2016 he won the Butkus Award and was a first-team All-American. Of course, Foster would then declare for the 2017 NFL Draft and it looked like he was easily going to go in the Top 10 draft. But then, it all came apart…

Controversies leading up to the Draft

So now we get to the lead-up to the draft as Foster earlier on was projected to be a Top 10 selection in the draft. That hype was even knowing that he was undergoing surgery for his Torn Rotator Cuff that he suffered at the end of his college career. However, that would soon change after the Combine hit. During the Combine, he got into a big argument with a doctor while he was getting examined. Foster got into an argument due to hating the way he was being treated by this worker, but it's very telling that he got sent home as a result of this altercation. The worst part is due to him being sent home he could not speak to many people involved with the team who were at the combine. That did not give him good luck, but what made it worse was failing a drug test. Now apparently the sample he gave was diluted, which means that it was a weak sample. However, even if it was diluted it was still being treated as a positive test. These two incidents are clear examples of How to not handle yourself when at the combine. So of course he was falling on multiple boards.

2017 NFL Draft

It is NFL draft time and there were a lot of teams that were looking to improve at the linebacker position. Like I said earlier he was dropping on multiple boards and of course, fell. While watching the draft It was looking like Foster was going to drop to the second round. San Fransisco came calling and moved up to the 31st overall pick, trading a 2nd and 4th round selection to Seattle and selecting Reuben Foster. Fun fact the two picks they traded away became OT Cam Robinson and S Tedric Thompson. Acquiring Foster was a big get as the 49ers desperately needed linebacker help and he was expected to be labeled as a steal for how talented he was on the field.

San Francisco 49ers

Foster was of course projected to immediately start for the 49ers, especially once Malcolm Smith went down with an injury. So we get to Reuben Foster’s first game against the 49ers and he was already unstoppable with the first 10 steps in his career as he made 3 tackles, a pass deflection, and a tackle for loss. But unfortunately, Foster suffered an ankle injury and was out for a few weeks. It was definitely a bump in the road, but with those first great snaps, it was only a matter of time before he would get better. In fact when healthy Foster just improved more and more. It was telling of the amount of trust they had in Foster as the 49ers decided to release long-time linebacker Navarro Bowman and he became the replacement. He finished the year with 78 tackles in 10 games. The future was bright for Reuben Foster after a strong rookie season.

Until the off the field problems came back. In January 2018, Foster was arrested for possession of marijuana. That was not a good look for Reuben, but if you thought this was bad, well get ready because around a month or two later he was also arrested for domestic violence and a weapons charge. It was a big blow to Foster’s image and there was a suspension that was easily coming for him which later turned out to be two games.

Something interesting that turned this around was that Foster’s GF who accused him of hitting her actually lied to the police under oath. I did a little research on this and well she basically admitted that it was a money scheme and she even did this to a former boyfriend in the past. That's not all, she also admitted to stealing Rolex watches, clothes, and around 8,000 dollars in cash from Foster. So clearly Foster’s girlfriend doesn’t come across well in this situation either. You expect after this that Foster would just break up with her and just move on from his life. Well, that unfortunately is not what happened. So in the middle of the 2018 season, Foster was arrested at the 49ers team hotel for yet another domestic violence charge. Foster was alleged to have physically assaulted her in public and even knocked her phone out of her hands. In some of the medical reports, it was noticed that she had scratches on her body as well. I mean no excuses here and the worst part was that this arrest took place a day before the 49ers were about to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So not only did this take place during a hotel where the 49ers were at, but they were about to play a game the next day. The 49ers gave Foster too many chances and they decided to just cut all ties with him. Nobody at all should blame the 49ers for doing this as he was too much of a distraction to the locker room and was too toxic to the culture of the organization.

Washington Redskins

So with all the allegations and investigations popping up regarding Foster, you think it would take him a while before he pops up on another team. Well, that is not the case as the Washington Redskins decided to immediately pick up Foster. The main reason why they did this was that according to GM Bruce Allen the organization did its own investigation and found nothing. Which would have been a fine explanation, if it was not for the comments made by Doug Williams where he called the whole Rueben Foster situation “small potatoes’’ and “other people are doing worse things’’. This is a disgraceful and insensitive comment that was made by Doug Williams. I mean eventually, he apologized for the comments, but it goes to show how much of a dysfunctional and toxic mess the organization was and still is today.

So with Reuben Foster being acquired, he was expected to have an impact for the next season. Especially, as there was no chance that Foster was going to play this season with the investigation ongoing. So, Washington decided to place Foster on the Commissioner's Exempt List and did not play the rest of the 2018 season. Luckily the NFL concluded their investigation on him and could not find anything regarding Rueben violating the NFL’s Conduct Policy. However, the league decided to fine him two game checks as punishment.

So now we get to Reuben’s first practice with Washington and he, unfortunately, suffered a severe injury. He tore his ACL, MCL, and LCL which is a brutal leg injury. I have not gotten to the worst part as Foster also suffered nerve damage in his knee and could not feel his foot for many months. It was such a brutal injury that he did not play in the 2019 or 2020 season. Washington decided not to bring him back and let his contract expire which has not been signed since.


I mean looking at his career it can easily be stated that in regards to Reuben Foster, he had all the talent in the world and it was flushed right down the commode. He went from being a transcendent talent that was going to get drafted in the Top 10 of the draft to being a cancer on and off the field, suffering a bad leg injury, to being out of a job. It was sad as I said he had all the talent in the world and he blew it. I will say one thing though, Reuben Foster in my opinion is one of the greatest What If stories in football. What if he did not have off-the-field issues during his time with the 49ers? Keep in mind in a few years the 49ers were a Super Bowl team and that linebacker core would have been scary with Fred Warner and himself. What if Reuben Foster never suffered that severe injury in Washington? That Defense was starting to get better and better and if he was not injured the Redskins/Football Team would have easily had a Top 3 defense. But it is a shame that those will only be what-ifs. He has gotten workouts from the Seahawks and Dolphins, but I doubt he gets signed to a deal. Why teams would even touch him just bewilders me, to begin with.



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