Inside linebacker Reuben Foster’s third arrest of the year was too much for the San Francisco 49ers, who are releasing the former Alabama All-American “in the best interests of our organization,” John Lynch, the team’s general manager, said on Sunday.
Lynch spoke with reporters before the 49ers’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which kicked off around the time that Foster was getting out of the Hillsborough County Jail after posting a $2,000 bond.
Foster entered the jail at 11:11 p.m. EST Saturday after being arrested at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa and charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence.
“Unfortunately, yesterday showed extremely poor judgment,” Lynch said, “and for that, we made this decision.”
Foster had been charged with felony domestic violence in California in February, but those charges were dismissed.
“I can tell you it’s extremely disappointing for me, for (coach) Kyle (Shanahan), for ownership, for everybody in here because we care a lot about Reuben,” Lynch said, “and I can tell you that it was a situation where we laid out some very specific ground rules for Reuben, as we do for all our players. We had a set of standards in place that the players were involved with in developing, and in this case, it was communicated exceptionally clear to the point as to what we expected out of him.
“Unfortunately, what transpired yesterday — this isn’t a comment on what happened there because that would be mere speculation on our part — but 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. That doesn’t mean we don’t love him. We all do. We care for him. But we feel like it’s in the best interests of our organization to move on at this point. That’s a very tough decision. I want it to be clear that this is an organizational decision. Kyle and I talked last night. We brought it to ownership, and we’re all lockstep in the decision. It was not easy on anybody.”
On Feb. 11, Foster was arrested in Los Gatos, California, and charged with felony domestic violence, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possession of an assault weapon.
On May 23, a judge dismissed two of those charges after the alleged victim testified she made up her claims against Foster. The judge also reduced the weapons charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
On June 6, Foster pleaded no contest in Santa Clara County Superior Court to unlawful possession of an assault weapon and was sentenced to community service and two years of probation.
“After the events of the offseason, we were very clear with him, and I think very fair, and he understood exactly what that was,” Lynch said. “The really sad thing is he had shown some, of late in particular, he was really taking some very positive steps in maturing in a really nice fashion. Unfortunately in life, there’s consequences for your actions, and when you show bad judgment, particularly after something’s been communicated very clearly what the expectations are, there are consequences, and I think one lesson I’ve learned being around this league for almost 30 years now in different capacities is that nobody is bigger than the team, and that’s ultimately what this decision came down to for us.”
Foster also was arrested in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 12 and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana. The marijuana charge was dismissed in May after Foster participated in a pretrial diversion program.
The NFL suspended Foster for the first two games of the 2018 regular season for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and its Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse.
Foster joined the 49ers as the 31st player picked in the NFL Draft on April 26. Evaluated by some as a top-five talent in the draft, Foster was available at the next-to-last selection of the first round after offseason shoulder surgery, an outburst against a hospital worker that got him sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine and a failed drug test at the combine raised red flags for some teams.
Lynch said he did not regret drafting Foster.
“I think we learned from it,” Lynch said. “You have to learn from every situation. Ultimately, these guys are human beings and they’re young men and they’re fallible. I think one thing we have to do is we have to learn from the process. And we have and we will. But at the same time, you can’t play scared. You’ve got to trust your evaluations and remember back to — and I’m not making an excuse — but we sit in these draft meetings and there’s a lot of information that comes out on these kids. As I said, they’re fallible. His wasn’t nearly as bad as a lot of them. Ultimately, we have to own it, and I own it.”
The woman involved in Saturday night’s incident is Elissa Ennis, according to the Tampa Police report, who also was the alleged victim in Foster’s arrest in February.
According to the police report, Foster and Ennis were involved in a “verbal altercation” when officers arrived, and Ennis told officers that Foster had knocked her phone from her hand, pushed her in the chest and slapped her in the face.
Lynch said the incident to which the Tampa Police Department responded did not occur in the secured area of the hotel occupied by the 49ers.
“It was not on our floors,” Lynch said. “I can say that unequivocally.”
Under NFL procedures, the 49ers cannot waive Foster until Monday. He was designated as inactive for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.
“One our tenants is ‘Protect the team,’” Lynch said, “and he didn’t protect the team.”
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
Source : https://www.al.com/sports/2018/11/gm-on-reuben-foster-nobody-is-bigger-than-the-team.html