Arian Foster

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Arian Foster
refer to caption
Foster with the Houston Texans in 2010
No. 37, 23, 29
Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: (1986-10-02) October 2, 1986 (age 31)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 227 lb (103 kg)
Career information
High school: San Diego (CA) Mission Bay
College: Tennessee
Undrafted: 2009
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 6,527
Average: 4.4
Rushing touchdowns: 54
Receptions: 255
Receiving yards: 2,346
Receiving touchdowns: 14
Player stats at

Arian Isa Foster (born October 2, 1986) is a former American football running back. He played college football at the University of Tennessee, and was signed by the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL) as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Foster was known for his signature Namaste bow, which he frequently performed after scoring touchdowns.[1] Foster holds the Texans franchise records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and also played for the Miami Dolphins. Foster announced his retirement on October 24, 2016.[2]

Early years[edit]

Foster was born August 24, 1986, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Carl Foster, a former wide receiver for the University of New Mexico, and Bernadette Sizemore, a secretary for the university.[3][4] Foster’s father signed with the Denver Broncos in 1982, though was not able to make it through the summer, and never actually made it to the NFL.[5] Foster has four siblings, Abdul, who was also an athlete, running track in high school and in college at Florida A&M, and Christina, who received her Masters at SIT in Vermont, his brother Braxton and sister Maria.

Foster's mother encouraged him to play football at the age of 7, to the dismay of Foster's father, an ex-wide receiver himself. As a former player at a high level, Carl was not supportive of the idea of his son entering the sport at such a young age. Foster took to the game, telling his elementary school teacher that he intended to become "a star in the NFL."[6]

His parents divorced in 2000 while he was attending Valley High School in Albuquerque, and in 2002, he moved to San Diego with his father. Foster competed in football at Mission Bay Senior High School, where he initially played as a linebacker, but became a full-time running back in his junior and senior years. He was Mission Bay's featured running back those years, and led San Diego County in all-purpose yards with 2,500 while compiling 2,093 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns in addition to six scores on kickoff returns his senior year.[7] In a game against Clairemont, Foster ran for 321 yards and for his efforts, he was named San Diego Union Tribune All-San Diego Western League Player of the Year, received All-West Region appointment by PrepStar, and also earned All-California Interscholastic Federation honors.[7] Then-Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and running backs coach Trooper Taylor were impressed by Foster when recruiting in San Diego.[8] Foster chose to attend Tennessee and was part of the 2004 signing class.[9]

Foster also competed on the track & field team as a sprinter and high jumper. He had personal-bests of 11.24 seconds in the dash, and had a top-jump of (6-2.5) in the high jump. He was also a member of the 4 × 100 m relay squad.[10]

High school statistics[edit]

Source: [1] Note: Incomplete

Season Team GP Rushing Att Rushing Yds YPA Yds/G TD
2003 MBHS 9 174 1,596 9.2 177.3 17

College career[edit]

Foster red-shirted his first season as a Tennessee Volunteer, sitting behind Gerald Riggs Jr. and Cedric Houston on the depth chart. He was a three-year starter at running back for Tennessee.[11]

In his 2005 freshman season, Foster earned the starting job following an injury to Riggs. On October 1, against Ole Miss, he had his first collegiate touchdown.[12] On October 29, against South Carolina, he had 148 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.[13] On November 5, against Notre Dame, he had 125 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.[14] In the following game against Memphis, he had 132 rushing yards.[15] In the next game, he had a commanding performance against Vanderbilt.[16] He scored two touchdowns in the game and his total of 268 all-purpose yards was the third-highest total in school history.[16] In the regular season finale against Kentucky, he had 114 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards.[17] Overall, in the 2005 season, he finished with 879 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, 14 receptions, and 148 receiving yards.[18]

Foster's sophomore season saw a slight downturn in production. He started the 2006 season with 69 rushing yards and a four-yard receiving touchdown in the victory over California.[19] Foster was limited for the majority of the season with injuries and missed games against Marshall and Memphis. On October 7, against Georgia, he had 63 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.[20] Splitting time with LaMarcus Coker after returning from injury, Foster ended the season with just 322 rushing yards.[21] Tennessee's final game of the season was the 2007 Outback Bowl, in which Foster fumbled with ten minutes remaining deep in Penn State territory.[22] The ball was picked up by cornerback Tony Davis and returned 88 yards for a touchdown, breaking a 10–10 tie and providing the winning points in Penn State's 20–10 victory.[22][23]

Arian Foster dives over the pile to score against Louisiana–Lafayette

His junior season saw Foster take over as the main back, with Montario Hardesty coming in as a substitute. In the second game, against Southern Miss, he had 125 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[24] Against Florida, Foster fumbled a left-handed hand-off from injured quarterback Erik Ainge which was recovered by Gators linebacker Dustin Doe and returned eighteen yards for a touchdown.[25][26] Up to that point, Tennessee had been gaining momentum and pulled to within eight points of tying the game, but the botched play made the score 35–20 and triggered a 24-point Florida run to close out the contest.[26] On October 6, against Georgia, he had 98 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.[27] In the following game, against Mississippi State, he had 139 rushing yards and a touchdown.[28] In the annual rivalry game against Alabama, he had 91 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to go along with four receptions for 74 receiving yards.[29] On October 27 against South Carolina, he had 75 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.[30] On November 3, against Louisiana–Lafayette, he had 100 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[31] In the next game, against Arkansas, he had 83 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, his seventh consecutive game with a rushing touchdown.[32] Foster surpassed the 1,000-yard mark with a 118-yard performance in a 52–50 win at Kentucky, and finished his junior season with 245 carries for 1,193 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also catching 39 passes for 340 yards and an additional two scores.[33][21][34]

Foster carrying the ball while evading an attempted tackle against the Alabama–Birmingham Blazers

Foster's breakout junior season resulted in a second-round grade[35] from the draft advisory board and led him to consider leaving school. However, head coach Phillip Fulmer persuaded him to stay for his senior season, a decision Foster would later deeply regret.[36] Playing under the third position coach and offensive coordinator of his tenure,[8] Foster was utilized in a rotation following the installation of a new offensive scheme that the Tennessee coaches thought was a better fit for some of the other running backs on the roster.[21] He only had one game with 100 rushing yards, the second game of the season against the UAB Blazers.[37] For his part, Fulmer would attribute Foster's diminished workload to knee and thigh injuries which would later be disputed.[8] In the end, Foster compiled 849 yards on 191 carries with five touchdowns in his senior season.[21][38]

Foster's subpar senior campaign caused his draft stock to plummet, as well as scouts' concerns about his below-average pass-blocking, issues with ball security, character issues (partly due to his earlier arrest) and the less-than-stellar reviews from Tennessee staff members that portrayed him as selfish and hard to coach.[39] A pulled hamstring also prevented Foster from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine, then he had a poor showing at Tennessee's Pro Day when he registered a 4.65 40-yard dash, 4.50 short shuttle, vertical leap and 9′7″ broad jump.[39] The combination of factors led to Foster being undrafted at the 2009 NFL Draft; after several teams showed interest in him as a rookie free agent, he chose to sign a contract with the Houston Texans in May 2009[40] because he thought the situation suited him.[39]

Foster finished his collegiate career as Tennessee's 2nd all-time leading rusher with 3,338 yards.[8] His legacy, however, was mixed. He fumbled just five times on a school-record 650 carries, but all of his drops came at critical moments, including fumbles in both 2006 Penn State games, one against Florida in 2007, and one against UCLA and Auburn in 2008.[8] His former coach Fulmer has defended Foster regarding these crucial mistakes, saying "There were a couple of fumbles that were untimely that people want to remember; they forget about his full career, about how special he was. He had a couple of fumbles after a couple of big runs. They were costly, but we probably wouldn't have been there without him."[8]

College statistics[edit]

Source: [2]

Rushing Receiving
Season Team GP Att Yds Avg Yds/G Long TD Rec Yds Avg Long TD
2005 TEN 11 183 879 4.8 79.9 66 5 14 148 10.6 39 0
2006 TEN 11 91 322 3.5 29.3 24 5 11 88 8.0 15 0
2007 TEN 14 245 1,193 4.9 85.2 59 12 39 340 8.7 65 2
2008 TEN 12 131 570 4.4 47.5 41 1 19 166 8.7 26 0
Total 47 650 2,964 4.6 61.8 66 23 83 742 8.9 65 2

Professional career[edit]

2009 NFL Draft[edit]

Foster ranked 24th among running backs available in the 2009 NFL Draft, according to Sports Illustrated.[41] Although he was projected as a fifth-to-sixth round pick, Foster went undrafted.[42]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 1 in
(1.85 m)
226 lb
(103 kg)
4.68 s 1.62 s 2.71 s 4.53 s 7.09 s 32 in
(0.81 m)
9 ft 7 in
(2.92 m)
23 reps
All values from NFL Combine

Houston Texans[edit]

2009 season[edit]

Foster was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2009. He was later released by the team on September 5, 2009, but then was signed to the Texans' practice squad on September 6 and signed to the active roster on November 17. Foster made his NFL debut against the Tennessee Titans on November 23, 2009 and played on special teams.[43] He scored his first NFL career touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Miami on December 27, 2009 on a 17-yard run up the middle in the second quarter of the game.[44] Foster then made his first career start against the New England Patriots on January 3, 2010 and ran for 119 yards and scoring twice on 20 carries.[45]

Overall, Foster played six games, starting one, during the 2009 season, finishing with 257 yards and three touchdowns.[46][47]

A Dallas Cowboys defender pushes Foster down in a 2010 game.

2010 season[edit]

Before the 2010 season, Foster changed his number from #37 to #23. In the 2010 season opener on September 12, Houston played against the Indianapolis Colts. Foster replaced Steve Slaton, the starting running back in the 2009 season, and broke many franchise records, rushing 33 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns.[48] In addition to breaking the record for the most rushing yards by a player of the Houston Texans in a single game, he and Slaton combined for 260 rushing yards, well over the team record for most total in a game, and also the most rushing yards given up to a single player by the Indianapolis Colts. Foster also posted the second-highest NFL opening day rushing total, trailing only O.J. Simpson's 250 yards in 1973.[49] During week 4 on October 3 against the Oakland Raiders after being benched for the 1st quarter, Foster recorded the longest run in Texans franchise history when he scored on a 74-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter to break a 14–14 tie. Houston went on to win 31–24 behind Foster's 187 yards from scrimmage.[50] After being passed up in rushing yards by Jamaal Charles during the Chiefs last game of the regular season, Foster posted another stunning performance rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns to solidify his spot as the 2010 rushing leader.[51][52] Foster finished the 2010 season by winning the rushing title with 1,616 rushing yards and 604 receiving yards breaking the record set by Priest Holmes for most yards from scrimmage ever by an undrafted player.[53] He was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl, which was his first Pro Bowl.

2011 season[edit]

Foster strained his hamstring twice during the 2011 preseason – at one point creating controversy due to his tweeting of an MRI image of the damaged tendon[54] – resulting in his missing the Texans' opening day game versus the Colts.[55]

Foster returned in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, but after carrying the ball ten times for 33 rushing yards in the first half, he missed the remainder of the game due to a re-aggravation of his hamstring.[56]

Foster missed Houston's Week 3 game at New Orleans, but returned to face the Pittsburgh Steelers the following Sunday. Against Pittsburgh, Foster ran the ball 30 times for 155 yards, including a 42-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run that proved to be the winning points in the Texans' 17–10 victory. In what was his tenth career 100-yard game, Foster's total of 155 yards was the second-most by a running back against the Steelers defense since 2001, and the most since Curtis Martin tallied 174 versus Pittsburgh in December 2003.[57] Additionally, his 42-yard touchdown was the longest scoring run allowed by the Steelers since 2006.[57]

The Texans squared off with the Raiders in Houston in Week 5, just a day after legendary Raiders owner Al Davis died. Foster had a tough time generating yards on the ground, tallying just 68 yards on 22 carries.[58] It was as a pass-catcher that Foster shone against Oakland, catching just five passes for 116 yards, including a career-long 60-yard reception in the third quarter. A last-minute rally by Houston fell short when quarterback Matt Schaub was intercepted in the end zone as Houston fell, 25–20.[59]

In Week 6, the Baltimore Ravens' stout defense proved a challenge for Foster as he was limited to just 49 yards on 15 carries in a decisive 29–14 loss. Foster continued to contribute in the passing game, however, catching six passes for 52 yards in the losing effort.[60]

Foster exploded in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries while accumulating 119 yards receiving and another touchdown on five catches. This helped the Texans en route to a 41–7 victory over their division foe and established them as the division leader; Foster's 234 total yards fell just short of his personal best of 238, which he registered on Opening Day of the 2010 season versus Indianapolis.[61]

Foster followed up his career-day against the Titans with a solid performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a tough, ball-control type of game, Foster equaled his career-high in rushing attempts with 33, totaling 112 yards on the ground. In a nod to Foster's prolific pass-catching in recent weeks, the Jaguars limited Foster to just one catch for 12 yards out of the backfield in Houston's 24–14 victory.[62] On December 22, he had 158 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.[63]

He was invited to the 2012 Pro Bowl, which was his second Pro Bowl invite.[64]

The Texans finished the season with a 10–6 record and won the AFC South.[65] In the Wild Card Round against the Cincinnati Bengals, he had 153 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, three receptions, and 29 receiving yards in the 31–10 victory.[66] In the Divisional Round against the Baltimore Ravens, he had 132 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions, and 22 receiving yards in the 20–13 loss.[67]

2012 season[edit]

On March 5, the Texans reportedly reached a deal with Foster, deciding he was worth up to $43.5 million over 5 years.[68]

In Week 2, Foster had 110 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars.[69] On October 8, in a Monday Night Football game against the New York Jets, Foster reached 5,000 yards from scrimmage (rushing yards+receiving yards) in his 40th game, becoming the third-fastest player to reach 5,000 yards to do so, only behind Edgerrin James (36 games) and Eric Dickerson (39 games).[70] In his next two games, he recorded two rushing touchdowns in both games.[71][72] On November 22, against the Detroit Lions, he had 102 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[73] On December 16, against the Indianapolis Colts, he had 165 rushing yards.[74] On December 23 against the Minnesota Vikings, Foster left the game in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat. Foster was announced the starting tunning back in the AFC Division for the 2013 Pro Bowl. This was the 3rd Pro Bowl he was invited to.[75] He ended the season with league-high 351 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns, and earning him eighth on NFL Top 100 Players of 2013, rising from 25 the previous season.[76][77] The Texans finished the season with a 12–4 record and won the AFC South for the second consecutive year.[78] In the Wild Card Round against the Cincinnati Bengals, he had 140 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, eight receptions, and 34 receiving yards.[79] In the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots, he had 90 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, seven receptions, 63 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown in the 41–28 loss.[80]

2013 season[edit]

Foster sustained a back injury in August before the 2013 regular season began, which limited his preseason play, although he was able to play in the first eight weeks of the regular season. Foster was not physically able to complete the season, but during the time that which he played, Foster had 121 carries, advancing the ball for a total of 542 yards, and had a touchdown in their second game of the regular season in which they beat the Tennessee Titans.[81] He left the game in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs due to a calf injury.[82][83] In Week 9, he had to leave the game they lost to the Indianapolis Colts with a season ending back injury. The injury would require surgery for a ruptured disk in Foster’s lumbar spine.[84][85][86]

Foster had surgery on a bulging disk in his back on November 13, 2013, in Los Angeles. Foster tried to play through the injury in the game against the Indianapolis Colts, the day he injured his back, and then tried to avoid surgery, but, after speaking with multiple doctors and specialists, Dr. Watkins included, he decided to undergo surgery. Foster made it his goal after this devastating injury and surgery to enter the 2014 season as a healthy contributor to the Texans.[87][88][89]

2014 season[edit]

In the 2014 season opener, a 17–6 win over the Washington Redskins, Foster had 103 rushing yards.[90] In the following game against the Oakland Raiders, he had 138 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.[91] On October 5, against the Dallas Cowboys, he had 157 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[92] In the next game, against the Indianapolis Colts, he had 109 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.[93] He had 102 rushing yards in the following game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.[94] He recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard game with 151 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans. In addition, he had a receiving touchdown in the 30–16 victory over the Titans.[95] On December 7, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had 127 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.[96] Foster had a solid comeback season after returning from his back injury, rushing for 1,246 yards and eight touchdowns while having 38 receptions for 327 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns.[97] For the fourth season in his career, Foster rushed for at least 1,000 yards. With that accomplishment, Foster was voted to the 2015 Pro Bowl, his fourth such nomination in his NFL career. He was named the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week for his Week 8 performance (151 rushing yards and two touchdowns) against the Tennessee Titans.[98]

2015 season[edit]

Foster started the 2015 season injured and did not play until Week 4 against the Atlanta Falcons.[99] In the next game, against the Indianaplis Colts, he had 41 rushing yards, nine receptions, and 77 receiving yards.[100] In the following game, he had his first touchdown of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars.[101] Foster ruptured his Achilles tendon on October 25, 2015, in a Week 7 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Before exiting, he had 59 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions, 66 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown in the game.[102][103] Two days later, Foster was placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his season.[104]

Foster was released by the Texans on March 3, 2016. He finished his Texans career with 6,472 yards and 54 rushing touchdowns, both franchise records.[105]

Miami Dolphins[edit]

On July 18, 2016, Foster signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.[106] Foster wore #34 during the preseason, but would later change it to #29 before the regular season started. He rushed for 55 yards in four games before suffering another lower body injury.[107]


On October 24, 2016, one day after rushing for five yards on three carries against the Buffalo Bills, Foster announced his retirement from the NFL.[108][109]

NFL career statistics[edit]

Led the league
Bold Career high
Season Rushing Receiving
Year Team GP Att Yards Avg YPG Long TD Rec Yards Avg Long TD
2009 HOU 6 54 257 4.8 42.8 24 3 8 93 11.6 20 0
2010 HOU 16 327 1,616 4.9 101.0 74 16 66 604 9.2 50 2
2011 HOU 13 278 1,224 4.4 94.2 43 10 53 617 11.6 78 2
2012 HOU 16 351 1,424 4.1 89.0 46 15 40 217 5.4 23 2
2013 HOU 8 121 542 4.5 67.8 23 1 22 183 8.3 41 1
2014 HOU 13 260 1,246 4.8 95.8 51 8 38 327 8.6 56 5
2015 HOU 4 63 163 2.6 40.8 16 1 22 227 10.3 32 2
2016 MIA 4 22 55 2.5 13.8 9 0 6 78 13.0 50 0
Career 80 1,476 6,527 4.4 81.6 74 54 255 2,346 9.2 78 14

Texans franchise records[edit]

  • Most career rushing yards (6,472)
  • Most career rushing touchdowns (54)
  • Most rushing yards in a single season: 1,616
  • Most rushing touchdowns in a single season: 16
  • First player in NFL history to have 100+ rushing yards in his first three postseason games

Film and television[edit]

From a young age, Foster expressed a creative interest in activities outside sports, such as poetry in elementary school,[6] and improvisation and theater in high school.[110] Foster first appeared on television as an actor, and not an athlete, as a guest star of the show Hawaii Five-0 in an episode that takes place during the Pro Bowl. He played himself, aiding Danno and McGarrett as they solved the murder of a tech executive, while Foster was in town for the game.[111]

After getting injured in the 2013 season, Foster joined the cast of the movie Draft Day, to play a running back getting drafted into the NFL. The film came out in April 2014.[110] Foster has not ruled out the possibility of partaking in an acting job once again if it does not interrupt his career as an athlete in any way. In an interview on the subject he stated, "I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in the film industry thus far. So I don't see why, if an opportunity presents itself again, I wouldn't jump on it, but it won't get in the way of my football career because that's first and foremost. That was my dream since I was seven years old."[112]

In 2015, Foster was one of the narrators for the documentary film Unity.[113] On March 8, 2017, Foster appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast the Joe Rogan Experience #928. He responded to comments he made on Twitter about being able to kill a wolf, and discussed his interest in physics, artistic endeavors, and his uncensored take on the NCAA and the NFL.[114] Foster also made a guest appearance on the YouTube podcast Painkiller Already (PKA) during which he gave his opinions on the NFL’s battle with CTE and continued with his ideas on killing a wolf. He also told his struggles with dealing with instantaneous fame of college football. [115]

Foster started his own podcast, Now What? with Arian Foster, in fall 2017. The podcast features Foster conversing with guests on a wide range of topics "from current events to unexplored regions of our universe."[116]

Personal life[edit]

As was documented on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, Foster was a philosophy major at the University of Tennessee and is an avid writer of poetry.[36] His first name is an abbreviated form of Aquarian, which means "water bearer", or, according to his father, "holder of knowledge".[8][117] His father is black and his mother is Mexican American.[118]

Sporting News called Foster "the most interesting man in the NFL". He became a vegan in July 2012. Though this did not last very long, his diet was a very interesting subject to the media for a period of time. Regarding his diet, he said: "I just like to eat healthy, man. That whole vegan thing, a lot of people are really interested in my food... I've had meat since I've said I don't eat meat anymore. I like to stay with the plant-based foods, but every now and then, I'll eat meat."[119]

Foster revealed his political affiliation during an NFL game, stating he is "in the Green Party", and he voted for Ron Paul in the 2012 Presidential election. Paul ran for the Republican Party nomination in 2012.[120]

Foster was raised as a Muslim; he has since renounced religion and identifies as an atheist.[121]


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