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Thursday, October 17, 2013
Arian Foster sees importance of branding

By Tania Ganguli



HOUSTON -- Arian Foster has a T-shirt line with Target. A role in a film. He's featured in commercials for "Madden," Under Armour and Toyota. He's featured in a documentary in which he takes a stand against the current model of college athletics.

And now, per our Darren Rovell, Foster has partnered with a company called Fantex that is paying Foster $10 million for a 20 percent stake in his future income, including contracts, endorsements and other related business revenue and plans to allow fans to buy shares of stock in Foster's marketability.

While Foster insists the proliferation of his off-the-field business interests isn't as dramatic as it seems, he is keeping an eye on the value it can have.

"I think branding is an important part of every athlete, of every human being," Foster told me this week.

He has learned two seemingly opposing lessons about that. While he thinks being honest about his opinions has drawn certain companies, he understands he has to filter his words, because once they're said and printed, they never go away.

"You can’t say everything you think," Foster said. "Because we live in a world where political correctness is kind of the golden rule. You have to say the right things, you have to do the right things. A lot of my core values and what I believe has some political correctness to it, but a lot of them don’t. You don’t ever want to try to take a stance on something without having thought it out, without anything like that."

As his capital has increased in the NFL, he's worked on balancing that.

"When I first went into the league, I said everything politically correct," Foster said. "I’m starting to care less and less about how I’m perceived to those who don’t understand where I’m coming from. I tried to get everybody to like me, but that’s not reality. That’s not realistic. I have to say what I feel."

How does he see his brand? As he tries to craft it, he makes an effort to partner with companies that he says he believes in.

"There’s one called Health Warrior I partner with," Foster said. "They make a product called chia bar, and it’s made out of chia seeds. Chia seeds are a very healthy protein with omega-3. It’s like a snack for kids, for everybody. It’s doing very well.

"I feel like things like childhood obesity is something that can be prevented. If you look at things that athletes endorse, it’s all junk food. We have a part in bettering our circumstances."