In his first home game since returning from injury, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster carried the football 19 times for 41 yards in a 27-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Foster also contributed nine receptions for 77 yards, including a 32-yard scamper that showed flashes of his Pro Bowl form. Despite Foster’s efforts on the offensive end, his team once again fell to their division rivals, whose dominance over the Texans goes back to the days when Peyton Manning still suited up for the Colts.
Since his breakout with the Texans in 2010, Foster ranks second in the league in rushing yards per game at 90.5, just behind Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson. Foster leads the NFL in scrimmage yards per game at 119.9 and is tied for the most touchdowns from scrimmage at 62. When healthy, Foster is one of the most effective offensive weapons in the game.
Over the weekend, attention shifted to Foster’s life off the field, particularly his pre-season admission that he doesn’t believe in God. Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Foster was raised Muslim by an African-American father and Mexican-American mother. After his parents divorced, Foster moved to San Diego, where as a junior in high school, he admitted to his father that he was an atheist.
“If a loving, kind Christian, Muslim, or Jewish person can’t accept a different vantage point, there’s just nothing I can do about it,” Foster told ESPN, revealing to the world what his father had known for years. “I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you want to believe.”
Earlier this season, after a vengeful victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers mused on the man above. “I think God was a Packers fan tonight, so he was taking care of us,” said Rodgers with a tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Rodgers’ comment echoed the sentiment he displayed last season when Russell Wilson and the Seahawks eliminated the Packers from the playoffs. Charged with emotion from a dramatic overtime win, Wilson, a devout Christian, gave credit to God for the Seahawks win.
“I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,” Rodgers told reporters then. “He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”
In the sports landscape, Sundays belong to the NFL. Modern football stadiums are designed with chapels in mind, and players pray before, after, and during games, often in plain view and captured by cameras. To understand Foster’s worldview as unique in the NFL is indeed an understatement.
“If there is a God and he’s watching football, there are so many other things he could be doing,” Foster said. “There are hungry children and diseases and famine and so much important stuff going on in the world, and he’s really blessed your team? It’s just weird to me.”
Back in Houston, the focus is again on Foster, this time for initially ignoring the league’s concussion protocol after a particularly grueling hit from Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Perhaps fed up with standing on the sidelines, Foster ignored trainers and returned to the field until he was relieved of his helmet. Rather than take a knee, Foster took his frustrations out on a tray of Gatorade and was eventually cleared to return.