The San Francisco 49ers are releasing the linebacker Reuben Foster on the heels of his latest off-field incident, the team announced Sunday, ending his tumultuous two-season tenure.
Foster, 24, was arrested late Saturday at the 49ers’ team hotel on a charge of misdemeanor domestic violence, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office in Florida. At a bail hearing Sunday morning, his bond was set at $2,000, and he was instructed to avoid any contact with his accuser.
The 49ers were in Florida for a Sunday afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This was not the first domestic violence accusation against Foster, though the previous charges were dropped after the same woman, Elissa Ennis, recanted in April.
On Sunday, with charges that Foster had slapped Ennis, pushed her in the chest, and slapped a phone out of her hand, the team delivered on an ultimatum it had issued in April as a result of Foster’s previous arrest.
“We have a set of standards in place that the players were involved with in developing,” General Manager John Lynch said at a news conference on Sunday. “In this case, it was communicated exceptionally clear and to the point as to what we expected out of him, and unfortunately, what transpired yesterday, this isn’t a comment on what happened there because that would be mere speculation on our part. It’s more of a comment on him not living up to what we had communicated and to the energy and the time that we’ve invested in him.”
The release cannot be made official until Monday.
Foster’s previous domestic violence arrest had come after an incident with Ennis in February. The team chose at the time to take a wait-and-see approach, and Foster appeared to be vindicated when Ennis fully recanted the accusations.
In a statement provided to the Sacramento Bee in April, Stephanie Rickard, a lawyer for Foster’s girlfriend, said of the February incident in question, “He did not strike her, injure her or threaten her.”
Arrest reports indicated that the accuser had suffered injuries, but in her recanting of the accusation, Ennis said the injuries had come in a fight with another woman.
“She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career,’ ” Rickard said.
Foster served a two-game suspension at the beginning of this season for violations of the league’s conduct and substance abuse policies — he had been charged with second-degree marijuana possession in February — and the team made it clear that it would have a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence as it kept a close eye on Foster.
“We can promise you guys, if there’s someone who ever hits their significant other, girlfriends, some person like that, that person is not going to be on our team,” Coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Obviously, Reuben is on our team right now, so we’re waiting to see how that goes. But, if that’s something that we felt he did or ended up happening, you guys will see how we feel.”
Foster was controversial from the start of his N.F.L. career. Named the nation’s top college linebacker when he won the Butkus Award for Alabama in 2016, he was considered a supremely talented player, with the potential to make an impact similar to that of Ray Lewis. He was initially considered a top-five talent ahead of the 2017 draft, but he tumbled to the 31st pick after a run-in with a hospital employee over his drug test sample at the N.F.L. combine that resulted in his being sent home without meeting with any teams.
It was later reported that he had a diluted drug sample, which is treated the same as a positive result. Because of that, he was put in the N.F.L.’s substance abuse program before he had even joined the 49ers.
As a rookie, Foster largely stayed out of trouble and played in 10 games, compiling 72 tackles and five quarterback hits, showing much of the potential that had intrigued teams in the past.
This season, after the two arrests and the suspension, he played in just six games with a lingering hamstring injury and had 29 tackles.
“He was really taking some very positive steps and maturing in a really nice fashion,” Lynch said. “Unfortunately, in life, there’s consequences for your actions, and when you show bad judgment, particularly after something has been communicated very clearly what the expectations are, there are consequences.”
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/25/sports/reuben-foster-released-49ers.html