One of the biggest news stories in the NFL this week has been the charges filed against former Alabama All-American linebacker Reuben Foster. He was charged Thursday with felonies relating to domestic violence and weapons possession, all stemming from a February arrest.
The San Francisco 49ers, the team that drafted Foster in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, have not released him, even though he faces a sentence of more than 11 years if convicted on all counts. According to a news release from the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, Foster “dragged” his live-in girlfriend “by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head 8 to 10 times.”
She was treated for a ruptured eardrum and also sustained bruises, according to the release.
The team issued a statement regarding Foster on Thursday.
“The 49ers organization is aware of [Thursday’s] disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster,” the team said. “We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”
And one NFL analyst, Ross Tucker, who works for a number of platforms including NBCSN and SiriusXM, wondered on Twitter why Foster never got into any trouble during his time at Alabama.
“Reuben Foster has been kicked out of the Combine, failed a drug test & arrested twice since going pro but never got in trouble at Alabama,” Tucker tweeted. “Bama either has the best support system of all time or does a great job keeping things quiet. Or both.”
Former Alabama player Will Lowery weighed on the matter, crediting Alabama’s support system, while also providing an example of a past player, former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, who struggled once he was outside of Alabama’s support system.
Can assure you its 100% the former. The support system in place is as remarkable as the rest of what Saban‘s built. Its close to a military academy..many players’ entire days are scheduled from early wakeup to tutors after dinner. Some struggle once they leave that.See Ro McClain https://t.co/QLc2Qh7wcw
— Will Lowery (@jwlowery29) April 13, 2018
Even before his time at Alabama, Foster had a way of making headlines because of his off-field behavior, most famously when he got an Auburn tattoo during his recruitment process. But in his time with the Crimson Tide, he managed to stay out of trouble. To insinuate that Alabama went to lengths to keep things “quiet,” though, might be taking things a bit far. Every time an Alabama player is arrested, it is fairly significant news.
Given where Alabama sits in the college football landscape — at the top — it’s not uncommon for people to try to smear the program and use the actions of past players against it. But to say that Alabama covered up and thus enabled Foster’s future behavior in this circumstance when there isn’t evidence doesn’t seem entirely fair to the institution.
Foster has until April 30 to enter a plea.