Arian Foster: Running Back opens up about his beliefs


Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has long been suspected of being an atheist, but it wasn’t until now that he officially declared this to the league and to the world.

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In an interview with ESPN’s Tim Keown, Foster explains his belief system, and gives us a very detailed look into the personal life of one of the league’s best running backs. He was raised in a Muslim environment, but was pushed by his father to be a free-thinker and to find his own truth.

In high-school he truly began to understand his own beliefs, and came to terms with the idea that he did not believe in a god. He made this known among friends, family, and teammates, but never made any public statements about it until now.

At this point, he feels as though he has established himself enough in the league that he doesn’t have to worry about losing anything based on his beliefs:

"“You don’t want to ruin endorsements,” he said, “People might say, ‘I don’t want an atheist representing my team.’ Now, though, I’m established in this league, and as I’m digging deeper into myself and my truth, just being me is more important than being sexy to Pepsi or whoever. After a while, what’s an extra dollar compared to the freedom of being you? That’s the choice I made.”"

Indeed his four Pro-Bowl selections identify him as someone who doesn’t need to do much to maintain his high position in the league. He’s decided that now is the time for him to begin to proclaim his beliefs in an attempt to better educate people as to what it means to be an atheist. He claims that some people make comments that suggest he worships the devil, and that most people simply do not know much about atheism because they have never encountered it publicly.

However, he doesn’t like using the word ‘atheist’:

"“I’m not a picket-sign atheist. I just want to be a happy human being and continue to learn,” he said, “If I tell you I’m a Republican, your mind immediately starts telling you all the things I must believe. Same with the word ‘atheist,’ and I don’t like people making assumptions about me.”"

Arian Foster is certainly a very different person than most of the National Football League. Not only do his religious beliefs make him stand out, but he’s also claimed to have a very interesting diet, briefly naming himself a vegan in 2012, and has publicly bashed the children’s TV show Caillou.

He’s known for being very active on social media and with his fans, and I don’t expect that to change based on this new public revelation. In fact, his openness with the public should only increase, as he’s shown himself to be someone not afraid of communicating directly with fans and engaging in the public sphere.

He has proven himself once again to be one of the more interesting players in the NFL, as he’s not afraid to break the mold or say things that may make him unpopular. Hopefully he will continue to be willing to take part in some of these difficult conversations, so that he can use his position to help society better communicate with itself.

This may well be a big story in weeks to come, as Foster isn’t likely to make headlines for anything football-related for quite some time. He will have groin surgery on Friday after an injury in the team’s first full-pad practice of the season, and probably will not return to action until the second half of the year.

Next: Who Should the Texans Pursue at Running Back?