Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. The news of Washington’s latest signing has caused controversy among fans. Troubled San Francisco linebacker Reuben Foster was released and the Redskins won the waiver claim, meaning they now own Foster’s contract rights though 2021. The former Alabama linebacker was subsequently placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. This means**** he has no timetable to return, but will continue to receive his salary until the inevitable suspension is levied. At minimum, Foster is looking at “conduct detrimental the league” suspension (4-8 game suspension) and at worst, a permanent ban from the NFL.
The last two players on the exempt list were Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy. Today it was announced that a video showing Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt assaulting a woman in hotel lobby surveillance video. After watching the video, disturbing would be an understatement. The incident occurred back in February, but since no arrests were made the story and video didn’t surface until Friday. Kansas City initially sent Hunt home from the team facility before ultimately releasing him. Hunt’s is the latest name to be added to the Commissioner’s exempt list (pending league investigation). The Chiefs are being praised as a team that made the right decision, but reports surfaced they knew about the incident. Chiefs’ officials told the media that Hunt fabricated details leading to his release. The timing of the Redskin’s signing and the release of Hunt seem calculated.
The Redskins are not built for this type of PR storm and are sending the wrong message by signing him before the legal proceedings are concluded. It could be viewed as a shrewd move for the future, but the question remains whether or not the Redskins have the best leadership in place to handle such a volatile personality
Although Foster comes with significant baggage, he was productive when he wasn’t injured or dealing with this year’s 2 game suspension. The former 31st overall draft selection has played in only 16 games over the last two seasons with 101 tackles and 3 pass breakups. He has been compared to Carolina Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly. Although Foster is serviceable in coverage, he’s not in the same hemisphere talent-wise. In saying that, he would be an upgrade over current Skins’ inside ILB’s Brown & Foster. As Gruden and other Redskins’ officials have tirelessly stated, having multiple former Alabama teammates, two of whom vouched for him on the roster, was a big reason the waiver claim was submitted for the linebacker. During Wednesday’s coaches presser, when questioned about the teams thought process behind the Foster waiver claim, Jay Gruden had a few head scratching comments.
“He’s a young player who’s made a mistake or two and we decided to tale a chance. We’ll deal with the outcry so to speak”
The Redskins are aware that Foster will, most likely, not see the field for the remainder of the season, but obviously believe his upside is worth yet another PR hit. If Foster does make it back to the field in 2019, he would inevitably become their starting inside linebacker who also offers solid pass rush ability. Foster’s chemistry with former Alabama teammates Ryan Anderson, John Allen, Daron Payne and Sean Dion Hamilton is well documented. Anderson and Hamilton, in particular, are rumored to have a close relationship with Foster. If this leap of faith does work out and Foster can get his life together, Washington could have a young & talented defensive nucleus for years to come.
Facing The Backlash
Reuben Foster’s aggressiveness and talent are undeniable, but his temper off the field has gotten him into trouble on other occasions. The ultra-talented linebacker’s altercation with a hospital worker, during the 2017 NFL Combine medical exam, was the first red flag to surface. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Foster pulled the “do you know who I am” card on a hospital worker because he felt he was being held up too long for the physical exam . It reportedly got so heated that Foster had to be restrained and escorted out. Foster was promptly sent home from the combine, by league officials, for his conduct. To make matters worse, Foster was then placed in the NFL drug protocol program due to submitting a mandated urine sample which came back diluted.
Per reports, Foster unofficially spoke to a few coaches and team officials who liked him, including Jay Gruden by his own admission, but due to his expulsion from the combine, never made it to the official team interviews . The former Alabama linebacker still managed to be drafted in the first round, but cost himself a lot of money by slipping from his projected top 15 spot.
Fast forward to January 2018 when Foster’s trouble with law began. While in Tuscaloosa, Foster was arrested for misdemeanor Marijuana possession, but the charges were later dropped. One month later police were called to Foster’s Los Gatos, CA residence for a domestic violence complaint. While at the scene, they discovered a rifle and he was charged with possession of a firearm and assaulting his former girlfriend. Authorities later revealed the firearm was not registered and illegal. Foster pleased no contest and received two years probation with fines.
As for the assault charge,it was later dismissed by the judge. Although Foster’s girlfriend’s injuries were visible, she later admitted that she sustained the scrapes & bruises during a fight with another female, which was corroborated by surveillance video. Per court records, Foster’s accuser stated that she threatened her former boyfriend before calling the police during the preliminary case hearing admitting she wanted Foster to go down and stated the following in court.
“I’m about to f**k your s**t up. You’re not going to have a job anymore.”
We also cannot ignore the fact that Foster’s girlfriend also admitted to reporting false domestic abuse claims against a previous, unrelated boyfriend. His accuser was questioned on the stand during preliminary court preceding regarding the previous false claims and admitted under oath that once again she lied about being assaulted and stated it was payback for breaking up with her.
San Francisco reportedly warned Foster about the company he kept and he would have a short leash. Last week the former Crimson Tide linebacker was once again arrested for domestic violence by the same disgruntled ex girlfriend. The details of the arrest and scene of the reported crime are limited, but once again reasonable doubt is present.
It’s no secret that some pro athletes buy off scorned girlfriends and assault victims in order to keep them silent. It’s also evident in this case as well as multiple cases in the past that professional athletes are targets for scams and can easily be blackmailed. In saying that, Washington’s wait and see approach while owning his right,s might seem like a savvy move to some, but the truth is Foster has issues.
Doug Williams has had conversations with former teammates on Washington’s roster, to attain background on Foster. His thought process on this is understandable, but knowing that a few rookies and second year players were consulted only hold so much water. Anybody who follows The B&G Report knows full well our stand regarding the Redskins/ Crimson Tides cross-overs, but these guys are friends and share acquaintances friends out of football.
Redskins John Allen made it clear that he wasn’t one of the former Alabama players questioned by Skins brass. This is concerning, considering Allen is the most heralded former Crimson Tide player on the roster and seems like the logical first player to speak to regarding Foster’s time at Alabama.
The Redskins have put faith in a player that could continue to hurt an already damaged brand and invited additional controversy once again. This would have been an appropriate time for the team’s President to explain the long term thought process behind the move, but instead sent out a clearly unprepared Gruden, followed by an confused Williams.
The stance of The Burgundy and Gold Report is that taking a chance on a player with obvious, self control issues along with previous legal problems seems shortsighted. The issue of domestic violence shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Redskins obviously looked past many factors when committing to Foster. Although the Redskins have more leverage with Foster’s long term contract, waiting for the legal process to play and then signing him seemed like the wiser move. Regardless of how this plays out the Redskins have already been denounced by the court of public opinion and once again Redskins fans are left with a bad taste in their mouth.
Written By Adam Aniba
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