Washington defends its dumpster-diving pickup of Reuben Foster
My stomach turned a bit when news broke that Washington claimed Reuben Foster on waivers.
The 49ers had just put him on the curb, like a moldy armchair awaiting a bulk trash pickup. Washington, acting like a thrift-conscious scavenger driving around neighborhoods in search of such “deals,” pounced on the chance to haul him to Ashburn.
This marks the second time in four weeks that a local institution reached a despicable conclusion that flies in the face of decency. First, the University of Maryland tried to put disgraced football coach DJ Durkin back on the sideline. Now, Dan Snyder’s team has embraced a man twice charged with domestic violence.
According to ESPN, Washington was the only organization to put in a waiver claim for Foster, three days after he was arrested at the 49ers’ team hotel. The incident occurred less than 24 hours before San Francisco faced Tampa Bay. Police said Foster had a verbal altercation with a woman and “slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area, and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face.”
The 49ers couldn’t cut him quick enough. They saw no need to let the legal process play out and see where it leads. They had seen enough since making him a first-round draft pick in 2017.
“Reuben has had a string of making bad decisions,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Monday. “We knew that when we took him. We thought he would improve, and we were going to do everything that we could to help him.
“I don’t know exactly what happened between Reuben and the accuser,” he said. “But, after this happened a second time with the same person in our hotel, I think that decision making was enough for us to move on.
In case you missed it, the woman pressing charges against Foster is Elissa Ennis, who also pressed charges against him in February. In that case, she recanted her accusations on the witness stand after initially telling police that Foster dragged her by her hair and hit her multiple times, leaving her with a ruptured ear drum, and bruising and cuts on her face, neck, hand and knee.”
Ennis said she lied about what happened.
On the witness stand, she said the injuries were sustained the day before her 911 call, during a road-rage fight with another woman. Prosecutors said that in her first recantation, to police, she claimed the injuries were sustained the day before her 911 call, during a fight outside a bar.
Let’s say that, unlike prosecutors, you believe Ennis told the truth in absolving Foster. That means Foster continued to be involved with a woman who stained his reputation so badly. He allowed himself to be caught in another domestic violence case, not just with anyone, but specifically with her.
Even if he’s innocent of ever laying his hands on a woman, it’s his decision-making process not the legal process that should’ve convinced Washington to leave him sitting on the curb.
“The Redskins fully understand the severity of the recent allegations made against Reuben,” senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said Tuesday in a statement. “If true, you can be sure these allegations are nothing our organization would ever condone.
“Let me be clear, Reuben will have to go through numerous steps including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL, as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the Burgundy and Gold as a player.”
Unfortunately for Williams and Snyder, it doesn’t matter whether Foster ever wears the uniform in a game. His presence has already sullied the franchise, regardless of results in the criminal case.
Williams said the team, which features four of Foster’s former teammates at Alabama, wants to provide Foster with the “best possible environment to succeed personally and professionally.”
I’m sure Washington hopes Foster can be its Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs’ dynamic playmaker, who in 2015 pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation. News reports said he punched and choked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time.
Hill was a first-round talent who fell to the fifth round. Foster didn’t have to wait five days.
In jumping to sign him, Washington delivered the wrong message: Getting a domestic violence suspect on the roster is more important than letting him face repercussions for his decisions, more important than giving him time to reflect on his behavior, and more important than taking a stand for victims of abuse.
Foster might or might not deserve another chance to play in the NFL. But Washington didn’t have to be the team to offer it, especially right away.
The speed was sickening.
The stance isn’t much better.
⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.