Foster has a history of being on the wrong side of the law. Transgressions include a misdemeanor weapons charge and misdemeanor marijuana possession. According to the Washington Post, “As a prospect at the 2017 scouting combine — the most important job interview of his life — Foster got into an altercation with a hospital employee and reportedly failed a drug test because of a diluted sample.”
Nobody should be looking at the NFL as a haven for “family values.” It’s greed is unrivaled. It has long turned a blind eye to the physical toll on the players. It has allowed a conversation on police brutality to be co-opted and muted, and is facing a collusion grievance from the voice of that protest. It has harbored a rogues’ gallery of shady characters, only in the rarest of cases banning players from the game. Still, 31 teams decided Foster was too hot to touch, despite his potential all-pro upside.
Enter the Washington Redskins.
I don’t want to pick on the Redskins. Yeah, I’m a Philly guy, and I like whomping on the NFC East. But Redskins fans have enough pain without me piling on. The fanbase has been forced to watch Dan Snyder’s destruction of a once-great organization. Throw in the controversy over the nickname, that’s enough. And we have our own questionable past. Besides, while the Redskins are the culprit on this one, it’s really reflective on the NFL’s values as a whole, and what they say about us.
USA Today keeps an NFL arrest database. It’s interesting reading. The first shocker is the number, obviously. Then the number of unresolved situations. On a grander scale, how many of these incidents received attention outside of regional coverage?
It should be enough to spark outrage, yet it will barely cause a ripple.
After all, it didn’t cause widespread concern when a study of 202 deceased football players showed 110 of 111 former NFL players were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
Neither did a study on paid patriotism released in 2015 by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake which found the Department of Defense paid 18 National Football League teams, 10 Major League Baseball teams, eight National Basketball Association teams, six National Hockey League teams and eight Major League Soccer teams a total of $6.8 million for troop tributes, military field ceremonies, player appearances and VIP passes.
In fact, the only issue that has really raised a stink has been the anthem protests. Think about that. Not brain damage or deaths, or pretend patriotism, or murder or beating women. The only real #BoycotNFL movement took flight because of a political gesture.
And while I was open-minded about the anthem, I’m as guilty of it as the next guy. I rooted for my Eagles, and celebrated a Super Bowl, despite knowing all of the above.
It is important to note the Redskins are playing the long game here: Foster was placed on the NFL’s commissioner’s exempt list pending a league investigation, so it is unlikely he will play this year. And that’s the right thing to do. But I can’t help thinking the NFL needs to set a higher standard than the bottom line, and the sad fact is it won’t do so, because we don’t hold it accountable.
No, it would be easy to blame the NFL. Easy to blame the Redskins. In the end, this is on us.