By Ken Reed

Arian Foster might just be the NFL’s most interesting man.

Foster is a different cat in the homogeneous NFL. And being different is always tough, especially in an industry that values conformity, like professional sports.

Foster is a thinker and he likes to speak about what he’s thinking about. That in and of itself makes him pretty unique in the NFL, where athletes that speak out on socio-cultural issues are quickly squashed by teammates, coaches, executives, or all three.

What makes Foster even more interesting is that what he often speaks out about are his beliefs as an atheist. This has led to him being ostracized on occasion throughout his football career.

“Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith,” says Foster.

“That’s my whole thing: Faith isn’t enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.”

Foster could be viewed as the anti-Tebow. Tim Tebow, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, has made waves throughout his career for his strong Christianity beliefs and actions. Tebow, while receiving scorn from some quarters, was generally praised for his outspoken public statements about his faith. The NFL has long been viewed as a “God and Country” league.

Foster is likely to meet much greater resistance than Tebow has due to his statements.

Nevertheless, the overarching point here is that both Tebow and Foster, and their views, should be met with tolerance in a free society in which the First Amendment is cherished.

Foster has taken a “live and let live” philosophy in recent years. He’s comfortable in his own skin and holds no ill will towards people of faith.

“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 says. “I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you 
want to believe.”

Both Tebow and Foster have exhibited a lot of courage by being true to themselves and sharing their religious opinions.

It’s for that courage that both should be applauded.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans.


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