Reuben Foster simply cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Having had a history of misdemeanors, he has now been arrested on a much more serious charge.
Police arrested 23-year-old San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Reuben Foster on Sunday at his Los Gatos home on suspicion of domestic violence and possession of an assault rifle. Furthermore, this is Foster's second arrest in a month - he was taken in by authorities in January and charged with second-degree marijuana possession in Tuscaloosa, where he went to college at the University of Alabama.
The authorities were called to the linebacker's home at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday on reports of a domestic disturbance. According to the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police, upon arrival, a woman who Foster had been in a long-term relationship with informed them that he had assaulted her after a heated argument had broken out between the pair.
According to a report, the officers who responded to the scene then discovered an assault rifle in the premises and booked Foster on charges of domestic violence, possessing an assault weapon, and making criminal threats. While the latter is a misdemeanor office, the former two are felonies and can be accompanied by a lengthy sentence, possibly derailing a budding career.
Statement from the San Francisco 49ers:— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) 12 February 2018
“The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the report regarding Reuben Foster. We take matters of this nature seriously and are gathering all pertinent information.”
Foster was thereafter booked at the Santa Clara County Jail on both felony counts and released later that evening at 6:35 pm after the linebacker posted a bail amounting to $75,000. According to Mercury News, a statement released by his team addressing the incident read: "The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the report regarding Reuben Foster. We take matters of this nature very seriously and are gathering all pertinent information."
Foster, who was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for November, ranked second in the team for tackles with 72, despite missing five games because of back and ankle issues. Highly rated as a youngster, he won the Butkus Award - given to the country's top linebacker - during his time at the Unversity of Alabama and considered a shoo-in for a top 10 pick during the NFL draft.
His first offense, the second-degree marijuana possession charge, was a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama and goes some way in explaining the scouting departments' reluctance at picking him during the draft despite his obvious talent. He was the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft after the 49ers traded into the end of the first round to get him. However, the fact that the 49ers were willing to use the No.3 pick on him, before deciding on defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, shows how highly he's regarded.
His low pick was because of the various red flags he had raised in the run-up to the draft and led to him being branded as 'immature.' He was once sent home early after getting into an argument with a hospital worker and then having his urine sample show up diluted during the test, which according to NFL standards holds up as a positive test. The positive test meant he had to enter the league in a substance abuse program.
Talking about Foster, 49ers general manager John Lynch said: "I would anticipate people may be questioning some of his character, but I would tell you his character’s what drew us to him. When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room, and he’s a good kid. I believe in the kid, and I think it’s going to be — he’s going to be a great player for this organization for a long time."
Lynch said that he 'anticipated' questioning along the lines of Foster's off-field behavior following the urine test incident but his second infraction represents a much more serious one. The fiasco of the 2014 Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice - where he was arrested and indicted for third-degree assault - meant that the NFL changed its policy regarding how it handles domestic violence cases.
Commissioner Roger Goodell was given the authority to hand out at least a six-game suspension to players accused of domestic violence, regardless of whether the allegation leads to a conviction. That authority came into play when Dallas Cowboy running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games in the 2017 season and may very well come into play in Foster's case too.
Considering all the effort the 49ers have taken to help Foster, it is unlikely his situation will play out the same way as another former 49ers player, Tramaine Brock. A cornerback for the team, Brock was accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend multiple times and was cut off from the team the day after his arrest. A month later, charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
When asked about Brock's situation and the 49ers stance with those accused of domestic violence, Lynch said that such incidents would be viewed on a case-by-case basis: "As those situations arise and, hopefully, there won’t be a lot them, we’re going to treat each one of them as a unique and different situation. That’s what we did the other day."
He continued: "I can also tell you that it wasn’t meant to send a message. I think you let those things happen organically, and we did what we felt was right in that situation. It was not easy and felt like it was something that we needed to do."
The 49ers have taken a hardline approach to such events in the recent past, and having just made Jimmy Garoppolo the highest paid player in the league, will not want to ruin what looks to be one of their best chances at becoming a contender once again. Foster's talent is undeniable, but the team has to decide whether the baggage that comes with it is worth the gamble.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter to his arrest:
Reuben Foster is what people think Vontaze Burfict is.— Pete Smith (@_PeteSmith_) 12 February 2018
Illegal possession of marijuana is one thing, but domestic violence is something else entirely. The devil will be in the details, but Reuben Foster is treading dangerously close to leaving the #49ers no choice but to part ways.— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) 12 February 2018
As always we should wait to see the details on Reuben Foster's latest arrest but it's sad that there is a clear pattern of a dude that can't stay out of his own way, at all.— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) 12 February 2018
#49ers Reuben Foster...if these reports are true...is finished. The Garoppolo fresh start does not need Fosters baggage.— Gary Radnich (@KRON4GRadnich) 12 February 2018
Reuben Foster in 1 yr. -Diluted sample then kicked out of combine after dispute, club issue SF, weed bust, domestic violence allegedly. Ugh.— John Lund (@JohnLundRadio) 12 February 2018
Reuben Foster's incidents since leaving Alabama: 1) Kicked out of the combine. 2) Failed drug test due to diluted sample. 3) Marijuana possession. 4) Domestic violence. All within a year. He's checking a lot of bad boxes. John Lynch learning the hard way. He bought in.— Jesse Fritsch (@CalhounLambeau) 12 February 2018
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