Every season new NFL stars catapult onto the scene from practically nowhere. Last year, no one took the league by storm more than Texans running back, Arian Foster. Foster led the league in rushing (1616) and TDs (18) in 2010, and is already considered by many experts to be the number one pick in upcoming fantasy drafts (a distinction many consider just as important).
This morning, I got a chance to chat with Foster, who in Los Angeles for tonight’s ESPYs — he’s nominated for three awards. He is also working with Subway Restaurants on an important promotion for charity.
The Football Girl: First things first, talk about the Subway “Pullin’ for a Cause” promotion and how you got involved?
Arian Foster: Subway and I are out here in Los Angeles having a backyard barbeque style because Subway is unveiling a new sandwich. It’s a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, a delicious sandwich that I recommend. It all ties into one of the original homes of barbeque, which is Alabama. Of course the Alabama region had some floods around the springtime and the sandwich is helping to raise money for some of the victims that are going through hard times right now. You can help by texting FOOD to 27722 and that will donate $10. And any money that is raised during this event, Subway will match. So it’s for a good cause and it’s great food. Hopefully people can get out there and help
TFG: Now I understand that famous Subway spokesman, Jared Fogle is joining you for an event later today in Los Angeles. Have you two met before?
AF: No, I haven’t got a chance to meet him yet, but I’m excited. Foster and Fogle. Sounds like a cool little law firm, so maybe we can go into business later on.
TFG: I like it. Can you please ask him how many Subway sandwiches he’s still eating per week? Maybe you can tweet it out later.
AF: Oh definitely. I’ll ask and see what he says.
TFG: Thanks. Onto football matters. Arian, when is this CBA getting ratified? Give me a date
AF: I actually talked with Roger Goodell this morning and he told me it’s going to get done July…uh, 25th.
TFG: July 25th, you say?
AF: I’m just joking. I don’t have Roger Goodell’s cell phone number.
TFG: I know. Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to try and pass this off as breaking news.
AF: So you’re saying you don’t think I can get it? That’s what you’re saying?
TFG: I think you can get it. I just think you’ll leave the final negotiations up to some other folks named DeMaurice Smith. But you never know.
AF: Most definitely.
TFG: Arian, more and more fans are getting fed up as this lockout drags on and actual games are at risk. What can you, as a player, do to ensure you don’t lose their support?
AF: As a player there’s nothing I can do. Unfortunately my hands are tied since I don’t really have a say so in the matter. Especially in my case because I’m a “thousandairre” in the middle of a big money debate. I just encourage fans that if you really like football, understand this is a business first, and that’s the truth of the matter. Anything that garnishes this type of praise and attention is going to turn into a business and that’s what the NFL is. Every now and then you have to settle these business matters. All I can do is preach patience.
TFG: Obviously one way many players, including yourself, have stayed connected with fans is via Twitter. Your Twitter followers know you are a man of poetry, philosophy, and just an overall deep thinker. If possible, can you explain how these interests and mindset have helped your game on the field?
AF: First off, I appreciate it. I think the main thing is that being a free thinker and a different kind of cat helps with life perspective in anything and in my case, football. If you look at any type of situation, I look at the positive and try to spread my light and truth. I think it helps with my outlook on life and correlates to football. But I don’t think it helps me run any faster, jump any higher, or catch the ball or anything like that. It just helps me with perspective.
TFG: You have one of the more unique paths to NFL superstardom, being undrafted. You were cut by the Texans in 2009 and landed on their practice squad and the rest is history. But take us back to ’09. What was your backup plan if you didn’t land in the NFL?
AF: I didn’t have one. I heard a great quote by Will Smith and he said “I don’t have a Plan B; it distracts from Plan A.” I think that’s a beautiful quote and I think a lot of people are so scared of failure that they don’t put everything they have into whatever they want to do. I think, in turn, they write their own destiny.
I packed my bags after college and told my mom I wasn’t coming home. I took everything I owned and went to Houston for a tryout. It didn’t work initially but I got an opportunity on the practice squad and made the most of that. And from there I got onto the active roster and the rest is history. So yeah, I had no backup plan.
TFG: As you said, “the rest is history,” so much so that you’re being touted as the number #1 fantasy pick by several experts? What kind of pressure does that hold?
AF: Not much pressure because I don’t now who’s going to be drafting me. I’m aware of fantasy, but I’m not a big fantasy guy. I don’t play it. That’s not why I play the game, to help people’s fantasy teams. Anytime I can add a smile to somebody’s life that’s al well and good, but I play the game to play the game.
TFG: Congrats on your ESPY nominations. The awards are tonight but I imagine you’ve hit up the pre-parties. Who’s the coolest athlete or celebrity you’ve met so far?
AF: Actually, I haven’t really been mingling. Maybe I should have. I’m more of a homebody guy. I don’t like parties too much. I’ve just been hanging out with my family, and we stopped by Subway to pick up a couple of barbeque pulled pork sandwiches. We just like to relax and have a good time.
TFG: You’re a fantastic spokesman! Let me rephrase the question then. Who are you most excited to meet tonight since I imagine you won’t be home eating pulled pork sandwiches during the ceremony?
AF: (Laughs) I might, it’s a good sandwich. I’m not looking forward to a specific person per se; I’m just excited to meet everyone. I respect greatness and I’m just going to soak in anyone I meet.
TFG: Last question, the past few years the Texans have been loaded with talent and a lot of prognosticators frequently pick you guys to make the playoffs, but you’ve always cleared out your lockers after Week 17. Is THIS the season the Texans finally taste the playoffs? And if so, why is this year different from the other years?
AF: I don’t like making predictions because it’s not my style, but I will say we have a very talented team. However, we have to put in the work. It’s not going to come easy. More than anything I want to win for our coach, Coach Kubiak. He is very good at what he does and he takes a lot of criticism. I think he’s a genius of a coach. His offenses are always tops in the league, and he’s really fair. He always takes care of us as players. I just want to win for him and show people that he’s up there with some of the best coaches in the league.
TFG: Well, thanks for joining me, Arian. Good luck tonight, and much success to you and Subway in your efforts to aid the Tuscaloosa region.