Steelers guard Ramon Foster took to social media on Monday to announce that he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons.
It’s a sad day for me. You see, I may not buy jerseys anymore, but if I did, Foster’s No. 73 would have been one that I’d currently own and wear on a regular basis. There was just something neat about Foster’s story, and the fact that he was actually the first building block for a struggling offensive line that would one day become one of the best units in the entire NFL.
Most people would assume that the rehabbing of the offensive line started in 2010 with the selection of center Maurkice Pouncey in the first round of the NFL Draft.
In terms of commitment from the Steelers organization to improve a line that was abysmal during the late-00s, Pouncey was the start of the rebuilding, and his selection was quickly followed by tackle Marcus Gilbert (second round, 2011), guard David DeCastro (first round, 2012) and, of course, the hiring of Mike Munchak as offensive line coach in early 2014.
However, Foster came along before all of them. An undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2009, Foster waited in the wings and honed his skills, before becoming a full-time starter in 2011.
Not only did Foster win a starting job alongside so many high-pedigreed talents on the offensive line, he was about as consistent a player in terms of health the Steelers ever had, starting at least 14 games in every season over his final nine years.
That says a lot for a demanding and physical position like guard.
What also told you a lot about Foster was his character and that he was such a great citizen and ambassador for the Steelers organization during his 11-year career.
He was also a great leader. Remember the infamous Antonio Brown Facebook Live incident following the divisional round playoff victory over the Chiefs in January of 2017? Mike Tomlin’s rant was the most famous one to come from that audio that leaked out, but Foster could also be heard imploring his teammates to comport themselves in the right manner on social media and the like in the days leading up to the AFC Championship game. That may have been a bad example of leadership, given what was going on in the background, but for a player like Foster to rise up from undrafted free agent to team leader amid so many incredible talents and huge egos said a lot.
It also said a lot that he spent many years as the team’s union representative. Who better to understand the struggles of the rank and file NFL player better than someone who would have quickly been given the boot had he not shown that he had what it took to be a professional football player right from the start?
Foster didn’t come into the league by signing a lucrative deal, but he left after signing a couple that were pretty darn good.
Ramon Foster may never have made a Pro Bowl, but he was one hell of a pro, and an all-around great Pittsburgh Steeler.