You meet some good people doing what I do.
You meet some bad people doing what I do.
You very seldom meet someone like Ramon Foster.
There is hyperbole, exaggeration and overstatement all the time in our business, but I can write this without the hint of any of that: Ramon Foster is one of the finest men I’ve met. He’s not one of the finest men I’ve met who plays football; he’s one of the finest men I’ve met. Period.
Great family man.
I don’t know the truest measure of measuring a great man, but I’ll give it a whirl with this: I’m still waiting for someone to say something negative about the guy.
It hasn’t happened yet — at least no one has said anything of the such about him which I’ve heard.
Which is why on Monday on The Fan Morning Show, the words shook me, the answer rattled me a bit and the reality hit hard. It might have also impacted you the same way, I don’t know.
Foster — a free agent now after making 87 career regular-season starts with the Steelers along the offensive line — was asked about the proposition of him staying here and getting another contract in Pittsburgh.
The answer wasn’t necessarily tinged with sunniness.
“I love being in Pittsburgh,” Foster said. “But, the situation, the business part of this sport…it can get kind of cringey with everything that goes into it.”
The business end of the sport, of all sports, can really suck sometimes.
So that’s why, if Ramon Foster has in fact played his final game as a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, we all should take a moment to think about what he did for this franchise.
Who he is.
What he’s all about.
The type of man he is and has become in his time here.
You see, Foster embodies Pittsburgh — an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee who made the team with hard work and fortitude, rolling his sleeves up and simply grinding and grinding until it was impossible to not play him.
Foster also embodies our mighty city of steel for his reliability and dependability, punching that clock with a regularity that allowed him to start at least 14 games in each season since 2011. He started all 18 for the Pittsburgh Steelers this past season, as it seemed the offensive line, to some degree, crumbled around him.
But that isn’t what he likes to talk about.
Anytime I would have a private moment with Foster and want to talk about his vocation, he would quickly try to turn the conversation to his beautiful wife and the two young boys that they both adore.
Or to his brother who is so close to him.
Or his little-bitty hometown in West Tennessee that means so much to him.
Foster never lets football consume him or become his whole being; he just seems like a great husband, dad, brother, friend and neighbor who happens to be a football player.
And in the past couple season, Foster has become a media darling of sorts, being that guy virtually anyone who covers the team can depend on as a “go-to guy” when they need the pulse of the team. From what I understand, even after the toughest of moments, the most excruciating defeats, it was Foster who was always willing to talk and face whatever questions the media had — he comprehends Steeler Nation wanted an answer both after the good times and bad.
And there he was, when things got chippy with the Cincinnati Bengals a couple times this season, both talking to the talk and walking the walk, standing up to Vontaze Burfict through the media and on the field.
Great family man.
The NFL needs more men like Ramon Foster and less like the kind of guys we read in headlines getting in trouble.
Hopefully the offensive lineman and the Steelers can find a way to hammer out a new contract and he can remain here in Pittsburgh.
If not, if this is really the end, you can firmly state what might be the best commendation in Pittsburgh: Ramon Foster has become, truly, one of us.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.