Arian Foster Rides Mechanical Bull, Talks NFL Lockout & The NCAA [5 Questions]

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Filed by: Joe Student, Busted Coverage 5 Questions Editor

How serious is the NFL Lockout? Well, 2010 NFL rushing and touchdown leader Arian Foster of the Houston Texans is working at Subway.

“The opportunity presented itself for myself and Subway to get together,” All-Pro running back Foster, 24, said prior to a charity benefit event in Los Angeles held by the restaurant chain Wednesday. “So me and Jared Fogle are out here hangin’ out and helping people in need.”

Foster was in Los Angeles Wednesday as Subway launched its Pullin for a Cause initiative with an all-star barbecue featuring its BBQ Pulled Pork sub.  The restaurant chain has asked consumers to text “FOOD” to 27722 to donate $10 to the West Alabama Food Bank (WAFB), a non-profit organization devoted to feeding victims of the recent natural disasters as well as relief workers rebuilding the area known for its barbecue. Subway has pledged to match each donation made through the end of July.

It was a busy day for Foster. The second-year pro out of Tennessee was nominated for three ESPY awards to be handed out Wednesday night on ESPN: Best NFL Player, Castrol Edge Performance Under Pressure Award and Best Breakthrough Athlete.

He wasn’t too busy to talk about the 2011 NFL season, who he’d like to present an ESPY with and how he’d react to an NFL player being openly homosexual.

There will be a mechanical bull at  the charity BBQ today. Will you get on it?

Nah it’s too risky, man. Too risky. My contract says I can’t ride motorcycles or do anything that might get me hurt. I don’t want to take the chance.

As a former undrafted free agent, you know all about being in limbo, as the 2011 NFL season is right now. Has your experience in waiting things out made it easier for you, or do you feel jinxed?

A little bit of both, really. It’s good to be away from football some times, you know? You need to find a balance, so in that way, it’s been helpful. But I have been looking at my old playbooks. I have been doing some workouts with teammates and other players.

Do you think a new CBA will get done in time to keep the season on schedule?

I’m really not sure. I get all of my info from ESPN, just like everyone else does. All I know is when I get called by the coaches to come and play, I’ll go play. We can’t do anything else but wait.

How much communication have you had with your teammates during the NFL lockout?

We talk and meet. We’re not going 100 percent in workouts, though. If anyone says they are, they aren’t telling the truth.

Why not?

We’re not insured. If we get injured during these workouts, we are of no use to an NFL team.

Have any of the guys gotten fat? Who can eat the most on your team?

(Laughs) Everybody seems like they’re keeping it together…As far as eating the most on the team, I can eat with the best of them.

You have become an NFL star during a digital age and are very active on Twitter. Some players have gotten into trouble this off-season. Is social media a minefield for athletes?

I think it’s a platform. It allows you to interact with fans and others, but sometimes people take themselves too seriously and get in trouble. I don’t take life too seriously –it’s actually part of my profile description on Twitter.  If you’re in a fishbowl, you have to be careful of what you say and do, though. I don’t care if you’re Joe Blow down the street, you can say something that can be controversial when taken out of context. …I just don’t understand how people can be so critical of someone else’s thoughts. They are their thoughts, not yours. You have to let them live their life.

 

Last week, Desean Jackson became the latest of many players to need to apologize for his comments deriding to homosexuals. In your opinion, would it be difficult for a current NFL player to declare his homosexuality?

I can’t speak for how other players would react, but if someone chooses to proclaim their homosexuality, it’s got nothing to do with me; it’s their business. I know people who are against homosexuality and I know people who are homosexuals. I think that too often we focus on our differences rather than celebrating what we have in common. I think you have to love all people the same.

You had a pretty amusing series of tweets recently about things that are greater than the NCAA. How do you and other NFL players who played at BCS schools view what the NCAA has become?

College football — college sports in general — is a big business and the employees don’t get paid much. People will say that ‘you get a free education,’ but it’s not free; it’s a lot of hard work to stay in a program. …It’s not fair, because even other students on scholarships can work jobs and make some money. If you’re on a full scholarship, you can’t get a job. It’s not an option. It’d be nice to see it change.

We know you’re a gamer. What’s been your go-to game during this off-season?

Probably “Call of Duty.” That’s the one I’ve been playing the most.

The newest one? ( “Call of Duty: Black Ops”)

Nah. I haven’t played that one. I’ve been slackin’.

You are nominated for three ESPY awards. How do you view the ESPYs with respect to other awards?

It’s my first experience, so I’ll reserve judgment, but it’s an honor to be nominated for any award. All of us that are there are there to celebrate a good cause (the V Foundation), so it’s a nice way to do that and help

If you got to present an ESPY with a female star next year, whom would you choose and why?

(Laughs) That’s a good question…I’d probably say Candace Parker. She’s held in high prestige and also from Tennessee; I know her. She’s very well respected and a great athlete. It would make for some good, playful banter up there.

You are the reigning NFL rushing champ and now nominated for ESPYs: Has it made you a bigger target for groupies and fans who are a bit too forward?

Nah, I’m low-key, man. I get recognized occasionally, but, you know, we wear masks, so we’re not getting people all over us unless you’re the poster-boy for your franchise. I’m nice to most people, so hopefully they’ll be nice to me. I don’t get recognized too much though.

What was it like to win the NFL rushing title in 2010 after what you went through to play in the league?

It was kind of surreal initially. I didn’t recognize the magnitude of the accomplishment. It hits you once you rest…I don’t hold myself higher than anyone else in the world. I hope that keeping focused and thinking about what I want to do, rather than what I’ve done will let me reap the benefits of my work.

To support Subway’s Pullin for a Cause initiative text “FOOD” to 27722 to donate $10 to the West Alabama Food Bank (WAFB). Subway has pledged to match each donation made through the end of July. Subway’s BBQ Pulled Pork sub is available for a limited time only. Sandwich sales from the Pullin For a Cause event will benefit the WAFB.

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