You're not the boss of me
Does Arian Foster enjoy being treated like your employee? Get real.
Updated: July 30, 2012, 12:25 PM ET
By Janet Reitman | ESPN The Magazine
ARIAN FOSTER DOESN'T hate your fantasy football team. He won't hate you if you draft him or even if you bet against him, and if you ask him about this "fantasy stuff," as he calls it, he will tell you that even though he makes fun of it -- fantasy football, after all, is fantasy -- he's actually kind of indifferent about the whole thing. "Either you play or you don't; it doesn't bother me either way," he says. "But people think it does." And that bothers him. "People take it so seriously, but it's not even a tangible thing! It's all just silly, man. Fantasy football isn't real."
Foster, whose first name comes from Aquarian, the astrological water bearer whose moniker means "the holder of knowledge," is extremely real. And he makes a point of it, this realness, he wants you to know. Desperately. He is 25 years old -- a fantastically fortunate and rich 25-year-old, granted, one whose prodigious talents as a running back just netted him a five-year, $43.5 million contract (he'll see about $18 million this year) with the Houston Texans. But he's also just three years out of college, still a kid who favors the standard young-male-athlete uniform of T-shirt and baggy shorts unless he absolutely has to wear actual clothes, and he's still just trying to do what's expected of him while striving to keep his dignity and individuality intact. "I don't mind being entertainment," he says. "What bothers me is when people dehumanize their entertainers. And that's what people don't get."
Foster then sighs deeply and launches into a lengthy explanation of the "fantasy thing," which will be a continuing theme of the day. "I got a really bad rap after I pulled my hamstring last year during the preseason. People were like, 'Oh man, I've got to change my roster around!' " he says, alluding to what would become a war of words with bloggers and fantasy owners. "What's hard to grasp unless you know someone involved in the entertainment industry" -- because that's what the NFL is, it's entertainment, he reminds me pointedly -- "is that when a player goes down for injury, something on his body is hurt. I know that's part of the game and what we signed up for, but to dehumanize us like that is kind of odd to me. I mean, I was going into a contract year, and this season could either make or break me. I'm coming out of a year when I led the league in rushing, and I came back and worked for league minimum." In his case, it was $525,000, which he notes is still a lot. "But say you get hurt and that's your last paycheck from the NFL. That's not going to last you long. After taxes it's only around $350,000, which you might be able to stretch out over a few years, but that's if you're great with it.
"So all these thoughts are going through my head, because that's the stuff that runs through your head if you're battling an injury. Even though it's a hamstring, hamstring injuries can linger, and in my eyes I was still fighting for a job, still fighting for respect. So when people are writing a whole bunch of things on Twitter like, 'Damn, you ruined my fantasy,' or 'Are you going to be okay for my fantasy team?'... I mean, fine, but how could that be the first thing that pops into your head? To a kid," he adds. "And that's all we are. Who has it all figured out when they're 24 or 25 years old?"
more: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/81929 ... n-magazine