By PAT YASINSKAS for TonySoftli.com

 

Since the news first came out Sunday night, everything I have read said Chris Foerster showed absolutely no warning signs.

 

In case you’ve been asleep under a rock in recent days, Foerster was the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line coach who filmed himself snorting a wide powdery substance. There is no definitive proof that it was cocaine, but it sure sounds like it. Foerster sent the video to a Las Vegas “entertainer’’ who said she had been dating Foerster.

She made the video public, putting it on social media. She said she did it because she wanted to show the social injustice that she believes goes on in this country. She said black NFL players are taking a beating when they don’t stand for the national anthem, while, at the same time, a white assistant coach can get away with anything. Unless there is video. There was and she dropped a bomb.

She also might be completely justified. From the video, you can tell Foerster clearly is a man with problems. Big problems. How far back do they go? Maybe much further than anyone realizes.

I’ve got a couple of Foerster stories that I thought I would never share with the world unless I was writing for TMZ. But, after watching how everyone keeps saying there were no warning signs, I have to write this.

There WERE warning signs. Maybe as far back as the 1990s, when I saw the first one. I worked for The Tampa Tribune from 1990 until 1999. I was the No. 2 beat writer on the Bucs in the 1994, ’95 and ’96 seasons before I became the No. 1 beat writer for the 1997 and ’98 seasons. I’m not sure of the exact year, but it was sometime while I was the No. 2 beat writer.

At the time, Tony Dungy was the head coach. He was very religious and so were most of his assistant coaches. Foerster seemed to fit that profile. He was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), All-Pro Dads and Family First. He often wore t-shirts from those three organizations and, at first, I had never seen anything unusual about Foerster.

That all changed on one night in Chicago. The Bucs were playing the Bears the next day and you would expect assistant coaches to get a good night of sleep. I had gone out to dinner with our No. 1 Bucs writer, whose name doesn’t matter because he wasn’t doing anything wrong. We were joined by a writer from another newspaper, who I will not name for the same reasons. This is where I need to be very honest so I don’t come across as a hypocrite.

All three of us had a few beers. It was nothing major. We got back to our hotel which also was the team hotel. We decided to stop in the hotel lobby for a nightcap. When we walked in, we saw Foerster and the team’s two trainers.

All three were visibly intoxicated. The trainers were sitting at a table drinking beer, babbling, but not doing anything outrageous. But Foerster was. He was wearing his FCA t-shirt and hitting on every woman in the bar.

Was he just drunk on beer or liquor? Maybe. But, with what has come out in recent days, I have to wonder if it was more than beer or liquor. Maybe his other issues went back to the mid-1990s. Maybe he never got help. Maybe the problems continued to escalate even as other teams continued to hire Foerster.

There was one other warning sign. I didn’t hear about it until I had left the Tribune to cover the Carolina Panthers in 1999. A couple years later, Dungy and his offensive staff got fired. Multiple, I and really do mean multiple sources, told me that when team officials were cleaning out the offices of the assistants and their computers, they found a ton of something on Foerster’s computer that should not be on any work computer.

That and the incident in Chicago were huge red flags that should have been spotted. Every NFL team has a strong security staff. It is usually made up of former FBI and/or CIA agents, who know everything that’s going on with anyone associated with the team is involved with.

Did Foerster’s issues only become a problem in recent times? Maybe not. Maybe so.

But I’m willing to guess that something was wrong as back as far as the 1990s.