"Yeah, man. I'm just out here trying to be the best teammate I can be. And I'm gonna work hard at doing that." -- Arian Foster
Anyone who follows the Texans knows Arian Foster is a different cat. He writes poetry, waxes philosophical on Twitter and bows in the end zone after touchdowns, single-handedly helping the average football fan to understand what namaste is. But those same qualities that make him fascinating can lead to problems for a guy who lives a significant part of his life in the spotlight.
On Wednesday, he spoke to the media for the first time during training camp, a camp that has found Foster nursing injuries that appeared markedly similar to ones that derailed his season last year. His return to drills appears to have set aside those concerns for now, but he clearly had no desire to answer questions about it. For all 11 questions thrown his way on Wednesday, he gave the same basic answer, which amounted to what KILT 610 midday co-host and former Texan Seth Payne referred to on Twitter as "performance art."
The scene was as surreal as it was funny. Of course, it bent a few media people out of shape and some fans didn't care for his lack of real responses to the legitimate questions about his injuries, but my biggest concern was how Foster turned what should have been a non story about a tweaked hamstring into a discussion of his aloofness.
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Foster's last run-in with the media was a little more intense, a January confrontation in his driveway with Fox 26 reporter Isiah Carey, who was trying to get a comment about a scandal involving Foster, an alleged mistress and her allegations that Foster tried to coerce her into getting an abortion. The videotaped rant went viral and the nightmare season for the Texans, which was already over at the time, racked up one more very public loss.
The truth is that Foster appears, by most estimations, to be a good guy who happens to also be a little different in a profession that doesn't handle different particularly well. Players who have come before him and were branded with the label "aloof" often ended up being heavily criticized by the media, even if it was undeserved. Ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, known at the time as much for his pouty, gruff demeanor as he was for his sky hook or conversion to Islam complete with name change.
Personally, I like different. I think it brings some color and personality diversity to a sport where too often the only antics we get to discuss are criminal proceedings or on-camera rants. But the repeat answers on Wednesday aren't doing Foster any favors, and I don't mean with the media, who tend to blow most things out of proportion. In this case, he is only drawing attention to himself when all he clearly wants is to be left alone. This is not the way to accomplish that.
I hope Foster plays well this season and we can go back to talking about his existential discussions of the universe on Twitter or his end zone bows, the stuff we all enjoy and the differences we appreciate, because all this training camp fodder he's generating is distracting us from football, which is really all we care about anyway.