It’s been quite a week for Arian Foster. One day we learn he’ll undergo groin surgery and will likely miss half the season, and the next day we learn he doesn’t believe in God.
“Here’s a guy who is an unconventional thinker and always has been,” Sporting News NFL writer David Steele said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He has never been shy about it or has hidden it. He appeals to certain portions of the fan base, and for others it’s kind of distanced him from them a little bit and maybe not allowed him to be really recognized for the kind of player that he is. And for some people, it kind of enhances him because he really kind of walks his own way and sort of walks his own path. But yeah, that was interesting. That was an eye-opener. That was kind of a wake-up call, and it’s kind of weird that it comes out at a time when all of a sudden he won’t be playing and won’t really have an opportunity to discuss it in a public forum for awhile. That’s just sort of the weird timing of how things go in this league.”
Indeed, Foster’s religious discussion was the latest odd, non-football headline in an offseason that has been full of them. We’ve had, of course, the ongoing saga involving Tom Brady and the Patriots, and we’ve also had continued accusations that Chip Kelly does a poor job relating to his players and is, according to some, a racist.
Looking at the Eagles specifically, does anyone talk about football in Philadelphia anymore? Or is it all speculation about whether Kelly is prejudiced against African Americans?
“Well, it was interesting because there’s still that faction in Philly that is pretty much in lockstep with what he does and never questions any of the moves,” Steele said. “A lot of people seem to really love the sort moving-the-chess-pieces thing – the whole pseudo- fantasy-football aspect of it, how he keeps plugging players in here and there and taking them out and saying trust that he’s a genius. (A lot of people think) he knows what he’s doing, (they’re) glad he’s in charge (and think) he’s going to take the team all the way. So there’s that faction. All those other things we’re talking about here, including whether he’s a racist – which, no one’s going to know what’s really in his heart. But you can judge him on his actions, his words, how people perceive him.”
How people perceive him – at least the people who have been waived, traded or otherwise dismissed from the roster or franchise in recent months – is not particularly flattering.
“It’s certainly worth listening to because they would know better than anybody else,” Steele said. “These guys have been playing for him for a year or two years or whatever it’s been. Evan Mathis was incredibly critical of Chip Kelly and the way that he’s handled things when Chip let him go earlier this offseason. There’s a theme that’s developing. Maybe Chip Kelly is not a pro type of coach and maybe his college mindset may be affecting what his decision-making is like in the NFL. I don’t think anyone can really argue too much. That’s kind of been a common theme among people he’s let go. Is he really dealing with (them) like men, and can he really handle people talking to him like men like the way they did with Andy Reid for all those years? That’s probably part of the equation as well.”