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Chris Foerster Is a Football Lifer. Does He Have a Football Future?

Like most NFL assistants, Chris Foerster worked crazy hours in a high-pressure (and high-pay) job, with attendant temptations. Others like him who’ve gone astray and then sought help have rebuilt their careers. Can he?

Chris Foerster is like a lot of NFL assistants.

He worked crazy hours to build up his reputation as a coach who’d be invaluable to any staff. He’s been willing to uproot, having made nine stops over a 25-year run in the NFL, working for nearly a quarter of the league’s teams. He has three children, and he’s been living separate from his wife since 2004.

None of that is unusual in pro football. But unusual things can come of that kind of life—and Foerster’s case is just the latest example.

By now you’ve seen the video, released by a woman in Las Vegas named “Kijuana Nige” through her Facebook page. Foerster has a rolled up 20, and proceeds to snort three lines of a white powder, which is pretty easy to identify, and profess to the camera how much he misses her, misses “getting high” with her and explains that he’s about to head into a meeting. He also seems to reference a pregnancy. A team source confirmed that it, indeed, appears the video was shot at the Dolphins’ Davie, Fla., facility.

Yes, this is worse than the case of ex-Lions defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who was sent to rehab in 2008 after being arrested for arriving drunk and naked at a Wendy’s drive-through. And yup, it’s also well beyond what happened with ex-Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who was suspended for six games in 2015 after punching a minor over the use of beach chairs that summer.

Bottom line, though—calling this case an outlier would be disingenuous. It’s just an extreme example of what happens in an industry where money is good, job security is short, pressure is immense and access to vices is vast. If the average NFL assistant want to go down the road Foerster did here, it’s not exactly hard for him to get directions.

Does that make Foerster an awful guy? No. While there were whispers about his demons even before this, the reputation he developed as a coach and mentor outweighed that.

As such, the Dolphins were stunned by the video. Foerster was regarded as one of Adam Gase’s most important staff hires in 2016. After a year with him, Gase and Miami felt so strongly about Foerster that they blocked him from interviewing for the Rams’ offensive coordinator job, gave him a raise to about $2.5 million per year, and named him run-game coordinator. And the Rams weren’t the only team that tried to poach him.

Before that, in his time in Washington under Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden, Foerster was seen as a top advocate for younger coaches on staffs that included future head coaches Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, and young rising assistants such as Matt LaFleur and Mike McDaniel.

As one staffmate said on Monday morning, “He does a great job, would never have thought this [was possible].”

So now Foerster will seek help, and the Dolphins, in their statement following his resignation, have pledged to support him as he tries to get his life together. In the meantime, plenty of people will declare his career over.

Maybe it is. But it’s worth mentioning that Cullen, after the Lions fired their whole staff at the end of the 2008 season, spent one year at Idaho State and was back in the NFL in 2010. He’s spent the eight seasons since with four teams and is now the Ravens’ defensive line coach. Kromer returned to the Bills after his suspension, was let go with the rest of Rex Ryan’s staff in January, and is now the Rams’ line coach.

That, and Foerster’s previous on-field credentials, would at the very least seem to leave open the chance that he could wind up back in the league and in the not-too-distant future.

We’ll see if that happens. For now, this can be racked up as another weird story for a coach working in an environment that’s pretty much rife with weird stories.

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