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Arian Foster Considered Leaving Football After Back Injury Last Season

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Houston Texans star running back Arian Foster knows what his priorities are, and sacrificing his livelihood for football is not one of them.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans running back sat down with ESPN’s Hannah Storm and gave a chilling recollection of the back injury that ended his 2013 season.

Here is a transcript of the interview, courtesy of ESPN.

Storm: When you injured your back, what were your initial thoughts?

Foster: Initially when it happened, you know it wasn't just a regular injury that you play through. It happened just like on a simple routine. I cut and I just felt like my back, this little slip. It was awkward. I tried to play the next play with it too, but I couldn’t even lift my knees.

Storm: Was it scary?

Foster: It is scary. Because you don’t know what it is, especially with a back. A spine injury. You can be paralyzed, that’ll change the course of your life forever. Those are the kinds of thoughts that run through your head.

Storm: Was there ever a point when you wondered about your future in the game? When you thought, what am I doing here?

Foster: Absolutely. Any time an athlete goes through an injury like that -- a back, a neck, even knees or hips, something that puts you out for the entire season -- you kind of re-evaluate your life. You see what's really important. Is getting paralyzed more important than playing with your grand kids when you’re 50, 60 years old. People die on the football field. This is a really brutal sport. Going through an injury like that, being 27 years old, I’m young, still I’m at the prime of my career. Is it worth it to try to come back?

Storm: People just assume oh he’s coming back, he’s making all this money ... they take it for granted. But you didn’t?

Foster: Absolutely not. People start asking are you going to come back next year, how long are you out for? And you’re just giving those cliché answers.

Storm: You had an encounter with Earl Campbell, the Tyler Rose, great Houston running back and it made you think.

Foster: Right, it was a while ago. I saw him. I'm not sure if his injuries were football -elated or not, but everybody knows how physically he played the position and that's why we love him. I admired the way he played the game and I'm very appreciative of how he played the game. Looking at him in a wheelchair and seeing how some of the affects from football are affecting him today and you're just looking at what really matters here. I'm going to walk away when I want to. I'm going to be the best me I can be and you’re going to like what you see. That's the mindset I've taken, and that's the mindset I've carried this entire offseason.

Foster’s comments have special significance considering the likely tragic ending to Giants running back David Wilson’s career as a result of a neck injury sustained last season. Football, as Foster so eloquently stated, is a brutal sport. Many of the men playing today will have memory issues, physical disabilities, or perhaps something even worse as their bodies get older. In exchange for a brief moment in the spotlight, and occasionally a lot of money, some of these athletes are sacrificing normalcy for the rest of their natural lives. No blame could possibly be put on Foster if he decided to walk away from the sport "too soon" in order to preserve his ability to watch his children grow up. Despite the immense financial and cultural stake that the entire country places on the game for six months out of the year, that is exactly what football is – a game. Kudos to Foster for recognizing that fact.