Whenever reports come out about athletes having children out of wedlock, most of us shrug and recognize it as coming with the territory. Athletes -- and other people in position of power and authority -- frequently find themselves in public paternity suits. If you are Shawn Kemp, many, many, MANY paternity suits.
Still, there are mitigating circumstances in the case of Arian Foster and his alleged mistress Brittney Norwood that complicate matters dramatically and make for a much more difficult situation for the star running back and his supposed baby mama.
This is how people in power often act.
Comedian Damon Wayans once said, "I have a friend who got busted for something he didn't do. He didn't run fast enough." For those with power and money, there is a tendency to take risks believing they can buy or bully their way out of any problems that come up. Getting caught is rarely a consideration, so, when they are, it can get very ugly, like screaming-at-a-reporter-on-your-driveway ugly. It is particularly tough on people who are used to be loved (or at least liked) by fans.
By all accounts, Foster is not a bad guy, just someone who (allegedly) made a mistake. Because he has been so well liked in Houston, having reporters show up on his doorstep to interrogate him about his baby mama has got to be a shock to the system. And in our TMZ-celebrity-obsessed stupor as a country, it is only made worse. Still, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that he's a different cat...
His personality makes him a target.
From the namaste bow to the aborted vegan diet to the poetry writing, no one would every accuse Foster of being your average football player. He's quirky, and that's putting it mildly. Some -- and I certainly do not include myself in this -- find his personality off putting. Others even find him to carry himself with an air of superiority, which is why some fans have turned on him so quickly.
In America, the only thing we like better than a star, is one that is falling out of the sky (or perhaps one that is trying to regain former glory after falling, but that's a part of the Shakespearian tragedy we haven't reach yet in this particular story). And when that star starts to fall, anything that seems even the slightest bit out of the ordinary is up for debate, and Foster certainly provides plenty of fodder in that category. No one wants to blame the "victim," but...
There is, without question, a sports groupie culture that exists. There are websites designed to help women locate and ensnare famous and/or rich people. In this case, Brittney Norwood is not a sympathetic figure. There are reports she is trying to have a reality series about her pregnancy and she dressed up like a "gold digger" one year for Halloween. Despite being a 20-year-old college senior, her sparkly dress that shows off her baby bump makes her look more like she's ready for the club than the maternity ward.
Her social media presence would also lead some to believe that her main focus in all of this was personal celebrity rather than love and parenthood. But, no one knows at this point, making anyone who decides to be a jerk and impugn her character more than a little premature even if the totality of what we know about Ms. Norwood is enough to give anyone pause.
His status as a football player is already in question.
Foster is coming off back surgery and getting dangerously close to 30, an age when running backs tend to see their skills decrease dramatically. He is also coming off multiple seasons when many believed he carried too much of the Texans offensive load. He was given a huge contract that was as much to reward him for his time playing at an All Pro level for very little as it was to pay him what he is worth now. Add it all up and you have a recipe for a lot of complicated feelings, nevermind predictions from all corners.
Anytime an athlete gets paid big bucks, he is held to a much tougher standard and rightly so. But, the fact that the Texans have doled out big money to a guy who will undoubtedly be cut this offseason (Matt Schaub) and a Pro Bowl player who can't manage to stay healthy (Brian Cushing) only puts more heat on Foster, particularly with GM Rick Smith on life support after pretty much everyone on the football side of the organization was purged following the season.
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He has a family already.
I have never fully been able to understand the inability of men to keep it in their pants. If you truly want to screw around, don't get married. It's a pretty simple equation. So, when some dude goes out and gets a girl pregnant despite having a wife and two kids at home, it reminds me of Jim Carrey's character's response to a repeat criminal offender client in the movie Liar, Liar, "Stop breaking the law, asshole!"
As thoughtful of a guy as Foster appears to be, this seems oddly out of character, but we don't really know what famous people are like in their everyday lives no matter how much we read about them or intently watch interviews. We are just outsiders and anything is possible. In this case, Foster's driveway freakout may be somewhat understandable, but it is his own fault. He's the one that didn't walk away. He's the one that got someone pregnant. He's the one that exercised extremely poor judgement.
Oh, sure, Ms. Norwood is certainly to blame herself. She claims to not know he was married, but that either makes her monumentally naive or a straight up liar. Even so, she is single and Foster is not. That should be the beginning and end of that discussion every time.