As one of the greatest running backs in Minnesota Vikings
history, Chuck Foreman rarely shied away from the spotlight in
the 1970s, turning down interviews about as often as he was taken
down in the open field. But two years ago, in the lonely
aftermath of what he calls the "toughest period of my life,"
Foreman had no desire to show his face. In February 2000 he was
charged in connection with a 1995 scheme to defraud mortgage
companies and later admitted that he had used falsified documents
to obtain two loans totaling $157,800. With his inglorious return
to the headlines, Foreman withdrew from the community and seldom
left his home.
"What I did was a mistake. I should have used better judgment,"
says Foreman, who assisted prosecutors in their investigation of
similar real estate cases, pleaded guilty to one count of mail
fraud in March 2000 and was sentenced to three years' probation
in February 2001. "It was embarrassing to read about myself like
Foreman says he has put his missteps behind him and feels he is
redeeming himself by showing his face again--at middle schools
throughout Minnesota. Through Sound Advice for Life, a program he
started in 1990 and has taken a greater interest in recently, the
52-year-old Foreman lectures students about everything, from
self-confidence to learning from their mistakes. Last year he
visited up to two dozen schools a month. "When you talk to young
people, they hold on to everything," says Foreman. "I'm hoping
that my experiences can teach them something."
Most of those who hear Foreman speak weren't yet born when he was
tormenting NFL defenses for seven seasons in Minnesota. A back
with speed and power, he had three straight 1,000-yard seasons,
was an All-Pro five times and was the team's alltime leading
rusher (5,879) until Robert Smith passed him in 2000. The
combination of Foreman's rushing and Fran Tarkenton's passing
helped the Vikings go to three Super Bowls. Football remains a
big part of Foreman's life: His son Jay is a linebacker for the
Houston Texans. "He's a throwback," says Foreman, who raised Jay,
26, as a single parent and also has two other children--Anthony,
13, and Andrea, 9--from another relationship. "Like me, he never
celebrates much or talks much on the field. He just focuses on
doing his job."
After retiring in 1983 Foreman had his hand in a number of
business ventures--the most significant, a Twin Cities--based
trucking company that dissolved in '94. Now he spends as many as
five days a week on the road, if not speaking at schools then
making appearances at retail stores and card shows. At one stop
last week Foreman told 230 seventh-graders, "People make mistakes
all the time. I've made plenty. You just have to forget about
what's gone wrong and focus on what right you can do." That's a
familiar theme for Foreman. --Albert Chen
their mistakes--just as he has done.