Arian Foster Feels NFL Owners Driven by ‘Ego’ and ‘Power’ Over Players

McNair and Foster
The Associated Press

Former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster wants team owner Bob McNair to come on his podcast “to sit down and have a conversation.”

McNair has been a vocal opponent of the anthem protest movement, while Foster knelt during the anthem two years ago, his last NFL season. The former Pro Bowl running back retired in 2017 due to injuries.

McNair created national headlines in October of 2017 when he said, during a private meeting between owners and players about the anthem controversy, “You can’t let the inmates run the prison.” This was leaked to ESPN.

The game after this statement, 30 Texans players kneeled during the anthem.

At first, McNair apologized, but then retracted it.

“In business, it’s a common expression,” McNair told the Wall Street Journal. “But the general public doesn’t understand it, perhaps.”

Foster would love for McNair to come on his podcast to talk over a few things.

“One, I don’t think he’ll do it,” Foster told Sportsradio 610 in Houston. “Two, I think if you were to accept that invitation, what it says is ‘I’m willing and open to listen to people.’ There are not many people willing to have that conversation publicly with an NFL owner, right, or capable, honestly. So for an ex-player or player to have that conversation in a public area speaks volumes of that progress a league would have made.”

What would Foster ask McNair?

“Question his motives, question the things he’s saying, question the things he believes,” Foster said. “I think how you feel about your employees is important. I think it makes for a better working environment.”

Foster’s podcast isn’t an echo chamber, and he does have guests from the other side of the political aisle. Foster recently had on Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, who criticizes players for kneeling.

Foster feels he revealed Travis’ agenda.

“I think in that conversation, I don’t want to say exposed because that’s a little provocative; I think I kind of unveiled his narrative,” Foster said.

Foster feels Travis pushes a right-leaning agenda for business purposes.

“It’s the problem with what’s going on in America today,” Foster said. “Everyone pretends they want to have a conversation. He’s very instrumental and he knows what he’s doing, and he knows his fan base, and the problem with it is when entertainment is intertwined with information that becomes an issue because that is his business now, his business is getting clicks, not generating true content and when those are conflated, you have what you have, you have people picking sides.”

Some people feel Foster might have picked sides when he had ESPN’s Jemele Hill on his podcast last year, and insulted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.

After Hill called President Donald J. Trump a “white supremacist,” Huckabee-Sanders said it was a “fireable offense.” During his conversation with Hill, Foster said about Sanders, “She’s so trash, I’m going to say it for you, she’s so trashy.”

Foster was asked by one of the Sportsradio 610 hosts what’s getting in the way of progress between the players and owners over the anthem issue.

“I think it’s ego,” Foster said. “I think NFL owners have had it their way for so long and they see other leagues and they are very progressive.”

A host chimed in, “Like the NBA.”

“There is this constant power struggle that is going,” Foster said. “The NBA has already relinquished and they already understand our product is our players. The NFL still doesn’t feel their product is their players. They feel the product is ‘The Shield’ (the NFL logo).”

Foster’s point about the NBA being more “progressive” than he NFL — at least when it comes to the anthem policy — is flatly absurd. The NBA’s anthem policy is actually more conservative than the NFL’s, and more restrictive of the players ability to speak their minds.

The NBA rule is this: “Players, coaches, and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”

It’s important to note, while the NFL anthem policy also mandates that all “team and league personnel” on the field need to stand and “show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” Unlike the NFL, the NBA rule does not contain a provision which allows players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem. In other words, the NFL actually makes allowances for players who don’t feel sufficiently patriotic enough to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, while the NBA does not. Which means, the NFL rule is actually to the left of the NBA rule.

Foster added, “The NFL owners don’t want the players to have that power, but the NFL players are starting to understand their brand power.”

But some might argue anthem protests are hurting the NFL players “brand power” since it’s cutting NFL profits, which the players share with the owners.

Foster would like to have an honest, open conversation with one of those owners — Bob McNair. However, the former running back clearly feels it’s not going to happen.

“That is the problem with the NFL, I don’t think they are interested in that conversation at all,” Foster said.

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