Saying that he's had a surprising NFL career subtly recalls the struggles he and Tennessee's entire team had during his career from 2005 to 2008.
Sure there were some untimely fumbles, two losing seasons and the fact that Foster didn't get drafted. But far too often it's forgotten that Foster ran for 2,694 yards as a Vol, second to only Travis Henry's 3,078.
Foster was second to no one during the 2010 regular season. He rushed for a league-leading 1,616 yards for the Houston Texans.
Here, I, along with former Vol Terry Fair, visited with Foster on The Drive radio show on 100.3 WNOX:
HOOKER: Your year has been absolutely phenomenal. Did you maybe even surpass your own expectations?
FOSTER: I wouldn’t say that because I think any athlete that strives for success sets their goals very high and I did that. When I was a little kid I used to run around and act like I was going to be the best thing to ever touch the NFL. That’s every kids dream. Reality sets in and you realize that you can’t always do everything you wanted to but I always felt in my heart that I could play at this level.
HOOKER: You haven’t had any significant issues fumbling in the NFL since leaving UT. Is that something you addressed entering the NFL?
FOSTER: (NFL Hall of Fame running back) Marcus Allen said, “If you haven’t fumbled it than you haven’t carried it.” It’s a part of the game. It’s just like a quarterback throwing an interception in my eyes. It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. You just have to try to minimize the mistakes. Like I’ve always believed, I don’t think I fumbled that much in Tennessee. I think that whenever I did fumble it was always blown out of proportion. You never want to drop the ball as a running back. Yes, granted. I just think I took a lot of heat and a lot of criticism for fumbles. That’s in the past. Let’s just move on.
WNOX PRODUCER RUSSELL SMITH: I just want to ask you about your last year at Tennessee (in 2008) now that it’s over two years ago. What happened there particularly with the offense as a whole and why didn’t Dave Clausen’s system work in the SEC?
FOSTER: I’ve heard a lot from the staff that got let go at the University of Tennessee about the whole (former UT offensive coordinator) Dave Clausen flipping the (offensive) line thing. I’m not really one to criticize someone's coaching philosophies because that’s their profession. My job is to play and not to coach, but I just didn’t see that working. I’d never heard of it before and I think it confused a lot of the guys. I think more than anything it stirred up morale on the team. Not to point fingers because it was an accumulation of things. I think the biggest thing in ’08 was that we weren’t together as a team.
HOOKER: If you don’t say anything I’m going to assume you agree with me, but that whole flipping lines thing was just stupid, right?
FOSTER: I never (criticized) the man or his system. If I was an offensive coordinator I probably wouldn’t do that.
HOOKER: Do you think it made you guys more predictable?
FOSTER: It could have been and it could not have been. I can’t say if the defense was predicting our plays or not. And not to put it all on coach Clausen’s system but I think a lot of the time X’s and O’s get overhyped. A lot of the time football is played by the players and players aren’t making plays and players aren’t executing then it’s not going to work anyway. So I’m not going to sit here and say that we did it 100 percent and the system failed. I think everyone had some of the blame.
FAIR: How has the total NFL experience been for you?
FOSTER: It was a transition. You see guys get shuffled in and out of the locker room on a daily basis and now you never really see those guys again. It’s hard to swallow at first but you get used to it. I think the biggest thing about the NFL is that you have to understand that it is a business and you have to treat it like that. You have to be a business man and you have to go about your work habits in a business manner. It’s not college. It’s just not. Some people aren’t cut out for it. It’s tough and we chose our own fate.
HOOKER: How much does it help a running back to have a guy like (Pro Bowl receiver) Andre Johnson who garners so much attention?
FOSTER: It doesn’t hurt. He’s my favorite player in the NFL. I believe he is the best wide receiver in the game, in the world. He garners so much respect. He’s constantly getting bracketed and double teamed. I think the reason we were so productive as an offense this year was just because we had a run threat also and I think the Texans were lacking that the last couple of years, but we have a run threat and it was a collective effort. Sometimes I just see myself watching him, which isn’t good. I’ll run my route and watch him run his route. It’s just pretty watching him run. It really is.
HOOKER: Did you have financial incentives in your contract that you hit from having such a great season? (Foster is currently making $390,000 per year)
FOSTER: No. I didn’t have any incentives, but I’m a firm believer in Karma and I work hard and I do what I’m supposed to do on and off the field. I feel like sooner or later that will all take care of itself. 390K is a lot of money from where I come from. I’m blessed to be able to play this game and if I get blessed to be compensated even more then so be it.
HOOKER: They need to get you paid. How many years left do you have on this contract?
FOSTER: That was my last year and I’m an exclusive rights free agent and I’m just waiting on the collective bargaining agreement whenever that gets handled. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We are all just waiting around. It is what it is, and in this life you can only control what you can control. I feel I can control my attitude and my work ethic and that is what I’m going to do...I’m going to be with the Texans next year. They have exclusive rights to me. So they can compensate me however they feel is necessary.