By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Reuben Foster wasn’t sure if he’d ever see an NFL field as a player again.
This past January, he was charged charged with marijuana possession in his native Alabama. Then, on Feb.12, Foster was accused of physically assaulting his then girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, in his Los Gatos home, which led to an additional charge for assault weapon possession.
Ennis later retracted her claim, the gun charge was dropped to a misdemeanor, and on May 23, Santa Clara County Judge Nona L. Kippen dismissed a pair of felony domestic violence charges that could have landed the 49ers linebacker in a prison cell. Now absolved of any wrongdoing, Foster reflected on the ordeal Saturday afternoon and says he’s grateful for his coaching staff, teammates and the game of football.
“It was crazy knowing football could be gone,” said Foster Saturday afternoon. “Just being back on the field with my brothers and coaches is a blessing.”
Amidst Foster’s legal problems, the 49ers were openly supportive of their 2017 first-round draft pick. The team opted to let the justice system run its course, knowing that if Foster was convicted, his time as a 49er would ultimately come to an end.
In addition to the front office, Foster’s teammates were also in lockstep as far as standing behind their fellow 49er.
One teammate in particular was Richard Sherman. Just one month after the former Seattle Seahawk signed with San Francisco, he attended Foster’s arraignment in April.
“That’s real. That’s like real. He’s a man for that,” said Foster. “I respect Richard Sherman for that. Coming to court, supporting me, and just being there for me.”
Foster did not escape this ordeal entirely unscathed, however. Despite being cleared of all formal charges from this matter, the NFL handed down a two-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct and substance abuse policy which stemmed from the marijuana possession charge in January.
Obviously Foster isn’t happy with the suspension, but has accepted the punishment.
“It is what it is, you accept the consequences and move on,” said Foster. “You learn from it. You grow from it. I ain’t worried, I’m just going to suck it up”
While the suspension will keep Foster out of the first two weeks of the regular season, he is still permitted to participate in any team activity until Week 1.
So far, Foster has had a solid first three days to training camp and has emerged as a defensive leader in only his second season in the NFL.
Now with his legal problems in the rear-view mirror, Foster is ready to move on and says this won’t have a lasting effect.
“It was hard but it’s small thing to a giant,” he said.