It happened shortly before the Texans and Broncos took the field for Monday Night Football, so we didn't get to give Arian Foster's sudden retirement the attention it merited here on BRB. As Foster was easily one of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Texans, he deserves better. Weston touched on Arian's career in this week's edition of Incompletions, but I wanted to make sure we devoted proper space for fans to pay their respects to the career of the best running back in team history.
Arian's career with the Texans ended with a whimper when the team released him a little less than eight months ago. Foster took the news in stride, penning a classy note of appreciation to Houston fans after the story broke. Foster would sign with the Dolphins a few months later, only to see his time there beset by injuries, finally resulting in Arian deciding to walk away from the game he loved two days ago.
I hope that football fans remember how amazing and productive Arian Foster was when he was healthy. Promoted from the Texans' practice squad after signing with the team as an undrafted rookie free agent, Foster memorably burst onto the scene over the final two games of the 2009 regular season. The team responded to Foster's unanticipated performance by using a second-round pick on Ben Tate in the 2010 NFL Draft. Everyone figured the Auburn product would quickly become Houston's lead back, but Tate broke his ankle in the 2010 preseason opener and was sent to Injured Reserve.
Arian Foster became the Houston Texans' starting running back for good at that point. He opened the 2010 regular season by running for 231 yards and scoring three TDs in a raucous victory over the Colts. He followed that revelation up with seven more games that season where he rushed for 100 or more yards, finishing the year with 1,616 rushing yards, 604 receiving yards, and 18 TDs. Out of nowhere, Arian Foster was the best running back in the NFL.
Although he battled minor injuries in 2011, playing in only thirteen regular season games, Foster was still the best and most important player on a Texans squad that won the division and went to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. More importantly, he was virtually unstoppable in the Texans' first two playoff games, rushing for 153 yards against the Bengals and 132 yards against the Ravens. Again, Arian Foster was the best running back in the NFL.
Buoyed by a five-year extension he signed with the Texans that offseason, 2012 saw Arian suit up for all sixteen regular season games again, as well as two more playoff games. As he did the year before, Foster seemed to come up biggest when it mattered most, serving as the primary weapon in another playoff win over the Bengals and acquitting himself as one of the few bright spots in a bad loss to the Patriots in the divisional round. Yet again, Arian Foster was the best running back in the NFL.
In 2013, the wheels came off for both Foster and the Texans. Foster only appeared in eight games before he underwent season-ending back surgery. The Texans would go 2-14, and a new era in Houston would begin. Fortunately for Bill O'Brien, he would have Arian Foster to lean on during that transition. Foster returned from surgery and suited up for thirteen games in 2014, posting 1,246 rushing yards and finding the end zone thirteen times. While Arian may not have been in a class by himself at that point in his career, to paraphrase Bum Phillips, whatever class Foster was in, it didn't take long to call roll.
2015 was Foster's last year in a Texans uniform, and it wasn't pretty. He wasn't productive in the four games he did play, and his season ended during a blowout loss to the Dolphins with an Achilles injury. Given the team's salary cap situation and questions surrounding Arian's ability to return from such a horrific injury, Texans fans saw the writing on the wall. It wasn't a surprise when the team decided to part ways with him.
It's difficult to properly encapsulate what a pleasure it was to watch Arian Foster during his prime with the Texans, but I think TGC's thank-you note to Foster after the Texans clinched the first playoff berth in franchise history is about as close as it gets to perfection. I urge you to read the entire post, but I want to excerpt this part for the purpose of this entry:
I've saved the most complicated and difficult part of this love poem for the last. It's a problem that I've had when thinking about how you play the game for some time now. The problem boils down to this: I don't think I have the vocabulary to describe how exactly you run. I've heard all kinds of comparisons: Davis, Allen, Craig, etc. But that doesn't describe your running style at all. You know those two white-dreadlocked twins from "The Matrix" that can move through walls and stuff? Sometimes I have that image in my head when you hit the hole.
Sometimes, I try to look for metaphors or similes but they end up all screwy: Arian Foster runs like a homesick angel running to heaven. Like a burning ember from a campfire reaching for the heavens on a cool fall evening in the countryside. Like that scene from "The Shawshank Redemption" where Andy Dufresne locks himself up in the warden's office and broadcasts an aria from "Le Nozze Di Figaro" for the whole prison yard to hear and everyone stops for a minute, convinced that for one fleeting moment there is beauty in this world and a person's soul can be free. Like a James Joyce novel that may be complex and dense but ends up taking you somewhere amazing. Like the poetry of e. e. cummings.
See what I mean by screwy metaphors? It just doesn't work.
So for now, I'll just say that Arian Foster runs like poetry. I'm afraid it will have to do until I find the right words.
And thank you for that.
Indeed. Thanks for everything, Arian. It was truly a privilege to watch you play for the Texans. We here at BRB wish you all the best as you move forward into a new chapter of your life.
If you're up to it, go ahead and share your favorite memories or highlights of Arian's time with the Texans in the Comments below.
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