The Texans' All-Pro running back—"an aspiring human being," according to his Twitter profile—is as provocative as he is productive.
DAN PATRICK:Why don't the Texans get more attention?
ARIAN FOSTER: Houston isn't a big media market. If we had the same team in New York, we would get more.
DP:Is it because you're in Texas and it's a Cowboys state?
AF: That's a very suggestive question.
DP:Who's the best football team in Texas?
AF: I'm going to have to go with the Houston Texans.
DP:Who's the best running back in the NFL?
AF: That's another suggestive question. It's all up to your interpretation.
DP:I'm asking you.
AF: Personally, I think you should always feel like you're the best at what you do.
DP:How important is Twitter to you?
AF: It's a good outlet to reach the fans. To get people to understand you and know you on a personal level without [doing] interviews. It's a good way to talk to people that you wouldn't normally talk to.
DP:Have you ever regretted a tweet?
AF: I don't really regret any of my tweets. That's how I was feeling at the moment. There's nothing you can do. You can't take it back.
DP:Have you tweeted about the replacement officials?
AF: I have not.
DP:How do you think they're doing?
AF: They're doing the best they can. It's a new game to them. As a player, there's not much you can do about a call. You're not going to get any calls changed.
DP:Do you play any differently with replacement officials on the field?
AF: You can't. You have to play the game you know how to play. I'm not really a big fan of the new defensive pass interference calls. Even last year [with the rule banning] some of the helmet-to-helmet hits. Football was always a very physical and gladiatoresque sport. I feel like [the rules have] kind of taken away some of the game.
DP:You want the game to be even more physical?
AF: That's why I fell in love with the game in the first place. I used to watch highlights of Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson. [Some hits] kind of got taken away—and rightfully so for player safety. I just like that football.
DP:Would you rather have seven great seasons with lots of carries or 10 good seasons with fewer carries?
AF: I'm always going to lean toward great. It depends what offensive system you're in. Some systems like to run the ball, some don't. [The NFL is] leaning more toward a passing league. But when it really comes down to it, it's always going to be about running the ball. You look at the elite passing teams last year, a lot of them didn't make it out of the playoffs. I always view running backs as the stepchildren of the offense. We're kind of just there. We have to be there.
DP:If you have to gain two yards, who is the defensive player you don't want to see in the hole?
AF: I don't want to see anybody in the hole.
"Shame on them. They should never have done this. If they hadn't taken the money and the spectacular chance to work at Green Bay or Chicago, they would have realized that this is going to hurt their officiating career. They're going to be labeled replacements/scabs for the rest of their officiating career."
—JERRY MARKBREIT, former NFL official, on replacement refs
Former Steeler and current NBC analyst Hines Ward said he would play aggressively under the replacement refs. "You have to force the officials to start [making calls]," Ward told me. "I'm head-slapping and doing whatever it takes to get off the line of scrimmage." ... I asked Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine if he thought he had a World Series team in April. "We had the talent," Valentine said, "[but] midway through the season there was a feeling that maybe this wasn't a group that fit together very well." ... Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he doesn't talk much about history on the recruiting trail. "The younger kids don't know Joe Montana or Joe Theismann," Kelly told me. "They think Dr. Lou [Lou Holtz's alter ego on ESPN] is really a doctor. They don't know that he coached at Notre Dame." ... Michigan coach Brady Hoke once worked for Jack Harbaugh, father of Jim and John, and says there's one Harbaugh you don't mess with. "Jackie, the mother, probably knows [football] better than any of them," Hoke told me. "You didn't want one of your guys to mess up, because you're going to get a finger in your chest [from Jackie]."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
BOB LEVEY/GETTY IMAGES (FOSTER)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (HOKE)
JOHN BIEVER (KELLY)
ROBERT BECK (VALENTINE)
GENE J. PUSKAR/AP (WARD)