Running back Arian Foster re-signed with the Houston Texans on Tuesday and after, he answered questions from the media at a Reliant Stadium press conference. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Running back Arian Foster
(opening statement) "First, I want to thank my offensive line, and my organization, and my coaching staff and everybody in this city, the fans that have showed me so much support and so much love. Once again, I want to thank my offensive line because they made me look a little better than I am. I made sure and told them that, each individually. I'm extremely excited that we were able to come to terms and get a long-term deal done because I love this city. I love this organization. It's a first-class organization. Mr. Bob McNair, our general manger Rick Smith, our head coach Gary Kubiak, they've all shown me so much support ever since I set foot as an undrafted free agent in Houston. I wasn't sure where I was going to go. They gave me a chance. That's all that you can ask for in this lifetime. With that being said, I'm excited about the future. I'm excited about doing my best as a Houston Texan and bring a ring to Houston. I want to thank everybody."
(on his agent saying this was a stressful time for him and what the last few days have been like) "I wouldn't call it stressful. It's nerve-racking. It's tough to handle when your future is kind of out of your hands. You don't know what the club wants to do. You don't know what your next move is going to be. Like everything I do in my life, I let it pan out and I react to it. That's all you can really do."
(on if this is another example of validation for him making it in the League ) "Well, it doesn't hurt. I think that the highest honor you can get is validation from your peers. I think this is icing on the cake. When you get Hall of Fame players who come up to you and say they respect the way you play the game, I think that's irreplaceable. That's something I take with me forever."
(on the journey from being an undrafted free agent to present and if he had any idea he could reach these levels) "Well if you would've asked me that coming out of college, people would've called me crazy because I did believe that I could. I think that any player that wants to be great does believe they can. I think the difference is they work at it. They understand that they have to work at it. I had goals coming into the NFL. I started small. My first goal was to make the team. Once you make the team, you get to play special teams as an undrafted kid. When you play special teams, your goal is to be the best special teams player on the field. I started setting goals, small goals like that, every single day that I was out there. I was getting better every single day, so I think once you take that mindset with anything that you do in your life, you can be successful. Like anything in life, I think you have a lot of help along the way, a lot of people that believe in you. A lot of people that give you that extra push. I'm grateful that everybody that is in my life from this organization top to bottom, to my friends and family that have been with me all the way. I'm extremely grateful for all of that."
(on his agent saying he was proud that Foster never complained about his contract and just went to work the last two years and the message it has sent to the organization) "When I look at guys that hold out, I understand what they're doing. I understand that it's a business and I understand sometimes that's their only option. I've always been one of those guys that when growing up, we weren't the most financially stable family ever. When I got into the NFL, when I got my first active-roster check, I thought I had made it. I was always grateful for that. I still have friends and still have some family members that are struggling financially. For me to demand money for a game that I get to play, where you get a lot of money, it just seemed weird to me. I'm not saying that it's wrong for anybody else, to each his own. For myself, I always wanted to present myself, and that's how I live my life, that money is important because you have to eat and you need clothes and you need shelter. If you're not happy with 10 dollars, you're not going to be happy with 100. That was always my philosophy in life. When I'm making League-minimum after leading the League in rushing, I felt that it was just a matter of time and if I did the right things and continued to live my life the way I do (it would all work out). I'm an extreme believer in karma for the most part. If you take care of this game, it will take care of you. Even if it didn't, something else in my life, I was going to be okay somewhat. I just believe that. I think belief is 90 percent of the battle."
(on what was the lowest time he has had in his life and how he pulled himself out) "When I was growing up, we were going through a lot of hardships as a family. I think the straw that broke the camel's back was when I saw my mother pawn her wedding ring to give us some food that night. I just told myself that I wanted to do something with my life. I just wanted to do something with my life to make sure that when I had a kid that she never had to worry about the lights being on. She didn't have to worry about any of that. I didn't care if I had to work three jobs or whatever. That's why I won't complain too much, because at the end of the day, we're all people. We just want to smile. Even when we were growing up and it was tough, that's one thing that my family always had. We smiled through it all. That's why I try to remain as optimistic as possible."
(on if his family is smiling now) "I hope so."
(on watching other players being paid more for inferior play but knowing that their journey was not his journey) "When you start comparing yourself in another man's mirror, that's when those negative thoughts start creeping in. My journey is not anybody else's journey. What I learned was success is not a destination, it's a journey. You don't get to a certain point and say 'I made it.' I think that struggle that gets you to wherever you want to go ends up defining you. I think when you start saying, 'Why can't I have what he has?' you're not yourself anymore. You're trying to be him or you're worried about someone else. That was always my thing, don't worry about anyone else. You can't control any of that. You can't control where you get drafted. You can't control any of that. All you can control is how you react to it. That was always my approach and I really learned that lesson the hard way after college. It has paid dividends for myself and the people around me."
(on what it means to him that it was not a long, drawn out process) "It meant a lot. I think both sides expressed that they wanted to get a deal done. I expressed myself to (Texans general manager/executive vice president) Rick Smith and I said, 'I don't want to go to that point where it's a holdout. I don't even want to get close to that.' I made that really adamant, not making a demand, but I really wanted to make that known that I don't like that media hoopla around it. I don't like all of that. I'm very thankful that we have an organization that reached out. They didn't have to come to me with a deal. They still had the rights to me for the next two or three years. They didn't have to do this. They did it off of the fact that as a player that has been playing good for 'X' amount of years and they wanted to take care of that player and take care of their organization and solidify that they want to be a team in this League to compete at a high level. I'm very fortunate that they were able to see that and they did that."
(on his reaction to hearing a deal was done) "I was excited. I don't think it really has sunk in yet. I just signed. That was the first time I've shed any tears in a long time (referring to an earlier question in the press conference). I think that hard work does eventually pay off."
(on what he has planned to help out his family) "We're going to cross that bridge when we get there. I was always a strong believer in that you teach a man how to fish. My family has been through a lot and I'm in a position now where I can aid them and help them towards their goals and their dreams. I'm happy to do that."
(on how important it is to make sure there is no drop-off in production after getting a long-term deal) "It's like I was saying, you can't worry about somebody else's mirror. I think Chris Johnson, towards the end of the year, he started coming around. I understand that he missed all of training camp. I understand what that's like because I missed part of training camp with a hamstring injury. I know how hard it is to get back in the flow of things. My biggest thing is don't approach the offseason any different. Just try and get better at everything you do, just like you've been doing. I think I have a huge obligation to this organization and these fans to be the best me that I can be for a long time. That's how I'm going to approach it."
(on if there is any extra weight or pressure with the new contract) "Honestly, I think the pressure is off. It's tough for an athlete to go out and play knowing a pending contract is there. You hear all across the League, I've got friends across the League and they say their goal is to stay healthy. I never try to do that. I always try to put it out of my mind and I'm going to play football and whatever happens, happens. I took care of my body and did all the right things. I think playing with that weight off of your shoulders and not having to worry about a long-term contract, you get to play free and you just get to play ball. I'm excited. I can't wait to get back on the field and do what I do best."
(on if he has ever played free where he didn't have chips on his shoulder) "I think you're always going to feel like you have something to prove, especially at this level. It's a funny paradox, where this is a business, but it's still a game. You understand the business side of it and a lot of guys are out to get their payday and that's just a reality of the situation. That's why I always tried not to play for a payday. I always tried to play for the logo on my helmet, the name on the back of my jersey, my teammates. I always try to play for the right reasons and I'll continue to play for the right reasons because if you're driven by just money, you're robbing yourself of your full potential. I've always felt like that and I continue to feel like that."
(on if it will be harder to stay on top as one of the NFL's best backs or if it was harder to get to the top as one of the NFL's best backs) "The funny thing about the NFL…it's not like the NBA. I'm pretty sure they go out every game, all 82 games, and play their heart out. But if it's 82 games, somewhere in there you could kind of pump the breaks a little bit and save them for the playoffs or whatever, but in the NFL there's only 16 games. Each year is a new year. Whatever you did last year really doesn't matter. You can't ride that hype and I understand that more than anybody that each year is a new year, so that's how I'm going to approach it. I haven't proven anything yet because we haven't won a Super Bowl. So until I play a mistake-free football game, that's what I'm going to strive for."
(on what Houston Texans fans' support has meant to him over the last few years) "I've never had a fan base show so much support of me before. Not to make it about me, but everywhere I go in this city, I can't go anywhere in this city without somebody expressing that. I just want to let them know that I'm extremely grateful for that because this is a huge market and this is a huge business and people get thrown under the bus all the time. I just love this city's support. They love their football in this town and they love the Houston Texans. This organization does a great job of reaching out to them and doing community outreach programs and all of that, man. I'm just extremely happy to be here. I live here. This is where I live permanently in the offseason. I'm a Houstonian, (a) resident and hopefully we can bring this city what it deserves."
(on what he told his mother after he agreed to his contract) "Funny story; when I was growing up, I was like seven or eight years old and I used to tell my mom I was going to be in the NFL, as every kid did back then. But one day I was joking, I was a real playful kid, I was telling my family everything I was going to buy. I was like seven years old. I was going to buy a house. I was going to buy a car. And my brother, 'What are you going to get me?' 'I was going to get you this.' I told my sister and I told my dad and I left my mom out. And she said, 'What are you going to get me?' I said, 'I'll get you a fruit basket.' She was like 'A fruit basket?' I said, 'Yeah, I'll get you a fruit basket.' So it was kind of like a running joke through my family throughout my whole career. It was like, 'When are you going to get mom her fruit basket?' So today, I think it should be getting there now. I did. I sent her a fruit basket to her job."