His rise from undrafted free agent to NFL rushing champion in the span of two seasons made him one of the most exciting players to follow during his early years with the Houston Texans.
Away from the field, he’s an atheist who tried a vegan diet during the 2012 season and has been distinctly uncooperative with the media at times.
But his multifaceted personality is one manifested through the peaks and valleys of playing in the competitive and often unforgiving NFL.
He elaborated on the I Am Rapaport podcast with Michael Rapaport about how his views of the game have drastically changed coming off three injury-plagued seasons (h/t Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle):
I watch zero football. I swear. Of course, I used to be a super fan growing up. Once you see the business side, you see it differently. I'm pondering entering the last couple, 3-4 years of my career and I'm thinking about what life will be like after football and I'm looking at the game differently. I look at it more like, 'I hope these guys come out healthy because they've got families.' It's not just entertainment to me any more. I see the men and the humans behind it. It's a vantage point that not a lot of people get to see. I still do enjoy the game. I love it, but it's just hard for me to watch it from a fan perspective.
From 2010-12, Foster blossomed into arguably the game’s best back, averaging 1,901 all-purpose yards and 15.7 touchdowns per season while the Texans won two AFC South titles.
But injuries—none more devastating than the torn Achilles he suffered in 2015 just four weeks after returning from a groin injury that required offseason surgery—have derailed his career and sidelined him 23 games in the three seasons since.
Should the Texans release Arian Foster?
The injuries have put his future with the Texans in question. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported last month the team is expected to release him at some point this offseason. If so, that would likely happen before the new league year begins on March 9.
Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports speculated Foster would still have a great chance of finding another home if Houston does indeed let him go:
Foster didn’t touch on his future with the Texans in Rapaport's podcast, but he did address the contradictory nature of how players and team executives are viewed when making roster decisions:
If an owner cuts a guy because of salary cap reasons or whatever, we're like, 'That's a good business move,' but if a guy wants a trade, and he's publicly demanding a trade or he publicly does something where he wants to go to another team, he's looked at as a bad person or a locker room rioter, he's not a team person and it's [bullcrap]. He's doing what is best for him and his family. It's a business move. People don't think about that. They don't look at you as a human anymore once you make a certain amount of money.
Should he remain on the active roster, Foster will enter the final season of his five-year, $43.5 million contract that includes a $6.5 million base salary and a $500,000 maximum roster bonus, which he only accrues in $31,250 increments for games he’s active.
Foster added he has no feeling of entitlement and that he’s appreciative to still be in the league.
"I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining. I'm not complaining, I love what I do. I'm very...I don't want to say privileged because that's disrespectful to the work I've put in and everybody else put in, but I'm just very grateful for the opportunity to play in the NFL."
Foster’s knock going forward will be on his health, and while an Achilles injury is among the most significant a running back can suffer, there’s a good chance he can find an interested party next season—perhaps with a contender he can help in a championship chase.