FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2018, file photo, San Francisco 49ers' Reuben Foster (56) jogs on the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. The Washington Redskins claimed Foster off waivers on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, after the 49ers released the linebacker following a domestic violence arrest. The team says conversations with former Alabama teammates led to the decision to claim Foster. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb, File)

Gruden: 'No guarantee' Foster's ever plays for Washington

November 28, 2018 - 7:07 pm

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — After deciding to give Reuben Foster an immediate second chance following his domestic violence arrest, the Washington Redskins say they'll continue to investigate the 24-year-old's legal problems and are making no assurances he'll ever play for them given the obstacles he must clear to return.

Foster is currently on the NFL's Commissioner Exempt list and cannot play in games or practice following his arrest Saturday night at the San Francisco 49ers' team hotel in Tampa. He has been charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence.

Washington was the only team to put in a claim for Foster after the 49ers released him Monday, the league's latest example of an organization looking past off-field issues for potential on-field production.

Coach Jay Gruden on Wednesday acknowledged the Redskins must deal with the public criticism of adding Foster so soon after his arrest, But the coach isn't sure the second-year linebacker will actually ever suit up for Washington.

"We accept, obviously, the questions, but we want to let the process play out and see what happens and get to the bottom of it," Gruden said. "There's no guarantee he's ever going to play here, to be honest with you. He's got a lot of work to do — personally, with the team, with the NFL, with himself — before he even thinks about playing football again."

Foster was arrested on a domestic violence charge last spring. Though those charges were dropped, Foster served a two-game suspension to begin this season for his arrest on a gun charge and for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Washington's offensive coordinator from 2010-2013, said he was a little surprised a team claimed Foster. Gruden said it was a "team decision" made with president Bruce Allen and senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams.

"At the end of the day we decided to make the move, and we'll deal with the outcry, so to speak," Gruden said. "But for the most part, this is a young athlete, a young person who got himself into some trouble, and we want to find out exactly what happened."

Gruden said after practice Wednesday the organization did not speak to the woman involved in the incident. He did say the Redskins spoke "a little bit" to Tampa police and would continue to look into Foster's situation at the same time as the NFL holds its investigation.

Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, professor emerita at the University of Toronto, said it's common and convenient for teams to suspend judgment on a player in situations like this.

"In a very lucrative team professional sport like football, I'm not too surprised," she said. "And it happens so frequently there's sort of a pattern where we'll wait until the facts are all in, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, we don't want to destroy his career, there's always two sides to the story — endless excuses."

Williams said in a statement the Redskins spoke to former Alabama teammates of Foster's before signing him. Washington has seven ex-Crimson Tide players who were teammates of Foster's at Alabama, but two of them said they were not asked about Foster by Allen, Williams or Gruden.

"I didn't talk to Bruce or anybody about it," safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. "You've got to speak with the organization, the guys that are above me, on that decision. But as a human being, as a person that wants to provide for his family and make the right decisions, just got to learn from your mistakes."

Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said he wasn't consulted by the front office, either, and added that he could only talk about Foster's character based on his personal interactions with him in college.

"I've never had a problem. I've never seen any problems out of him," Allen said. "He's a great person. But I don't know the whole details of the situation, so I can't really speak about that. But from my experiences, it's been good."

Rookie linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said he was happy for the addition of Foster but declined comment on whether he was asked by team brass about his former Alabama teammate.

The Redskins are facing similar criticism to what the Dallas Cowboys received for signing linebacker Greg Hardy in 2015 after his domestic violence case. The Redskins also signed linebacker Junior Galette in 2016 after the New Orleans Saints released him following a domestic violence arrest, a charge that was later dismissed.

Gruden said the team could have waited and signed Foster later but didn't want to chance another team signing him.

Foster's future with the team is unclear.

Emily Rothman, professor at Boston University School of Public Health, said she hopes that during the ongoing NFL investigation that the woman involved has a say in what happens next.

"Really the best person to go to is the survivor and the people supporting the survivor," Rothman said. "And that should be done consistently. Now, what the fallout is? In some cases, suspension might be the right thing. In other cases, it might not be because the situation really can vary."

The Redskins took on Foster, whose rookie contract runs through 2020, in the hopes that he can help them on the field at some point. There's no time frame for him to be able to contribute, and Gruden knows the team gets "nothing" out of the move if Foster is found guilty.

"We understand that there's a lot of things that he's gone through, and there's some issues there," Gruden said. "We're going to let the NFL take their time and do the right thing with the investigation, as are we. And we'll go from there."

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AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow and Barry Wilner contributed to this report.

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