Inside the Reuben Foster you thought you knew

Football is a man’s game played by boys. Sometimes we forget that the players we cheer for on Saturday are kids. Mere kids. Kids in how they think, how they act, and how they process what’s taking place around them.

Such is the case with Reuben Foster. Has there ever been a player whose recruitment was such a circus? And as we all know, there have been a few to behold around the Tide football program as of late.

But in Foster, you have a kid who just wants to make people happy. A kid at heart, inside a full-grown, superhero’s body.

ESPN’s Alex Scarborough offers us a glimpse at the manchild Reuben Foster in a recent interview, featured on ESPN’s Tide Nation.

You know the story. Recruited early by Kirby Smart, Saban and company at Alabama, committed to the Tide as an early junior, then flipped by Auburn and used as a pawn by a self-interested Auburn thug. Then the tattoo. Then much later, the weekend before signing day, Foster leaves his Auburn visit early, heads to Tuscaloosa, commits to the Tide on Monday night and signs his national letter of intent on signing day.

And we thought the Cyrus Kouandjio saga was crazy.

But taking a deeper look, Reuben Foster was almost helpless in his pursuit to make everybody happy. But the result of a final decision from unhappy fans?

“They told me, ‘I hope you tear your ACL,’ ” Foster said. “It’s crazy how people think and what they’d wish upon you.”

This isn’t the Foster you thought you knew…the #1 rated inside linebacker prospect in the country. A man among boys yet to make a collegiate tackle.

This is another Foster. A kid, trying to process the hate generated from choices like his in this football crazed state.

“As soon as I signed the [letter of intent], it all broke loose,” he said. “I didn’t want to come out of the house. I didn’t want to do anything.”

But rather than telling these hate mongers where they can go and where they can stick their hatred, he offers this:

“I didn’t mean for all this to happen,” he said. “I’m sorry to the Auburn fans, to the Georgia fans who I got their hopes up. I tried to make everyone happy. I hope they forgive me. To the Alabama fans, I’m going to try my best to come in and please all of them.”

The article is worth the read, and should serve as a wake-up call for any fan of any team. These are kids we’re following…some barely old enough to drive. Some without dads in the picture. Some without a firm grasp on anything but a football.

Whether or not Reuben Foster ever lives up to the hype and/or scrutiny bestowed upon him by critics everywhere, I pray this kid gets the foundation needed to take on the brutal, relentless opponent called life, where pleasing everyone is never possible.

We’re rooting for you Reuben. On Saturdays, yes. But even more on Sunday thru Friday. And don’t worry about pleasing us. We now know your story, a story that has humbled us all. You’ve already given us more than you ever will in a uniform.

(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)