Arian Foster and the Underrated Value of Positive Press
For almost the entire summer, beginning mid-to-late June and lasting well into August and early September, almost every media outlet was focused on one person: Aaron Hernandez, the now-former New England Patriots tight end who is being charged with first-degree murder (he has pleaded "not guilty").
From the second the news broke, people across the country were following Hernandez's case, talking about it on the news, writing about it in publications ranging from people's personal blogs to the upper echelon of news outlets, and sharing updates across social media. All the while, most of us were living our daily lives; despite the atrocities that Hernandez was allegedly involved in, not many people were directly affected by the ramifications (we pray for those who are). Yet, we were encapsulated by the story.
On August 28, 2013, Rolling Stone Magazine posted a full-length exposé on Hernandez entitled, "The Gangster in the Huddle." Naturally, the story generated a lot of press, revealing the backstory of his life, that had been previously unreported, and focusing on his downward spiral into a life of violence and drugs.
Two weeks later, on September 11, 2013, Yahoo! Shine posted a story written by Houston Texans running back Arian Foster entitled, "NFL Star Arian Foster: 6 Things I'll Try to Teach My Daughter." In it, Foster describes his humble upbringings, including the nights when he was told to go to bed at dinner time because there was no dinner to be had. He recalls his 8th birthday, when his father let him wear his favorite hat and taught him how to make "perfect scrambled eggs." And, he outlines the values that he wants to instill within his daughter.
How are these two stories connected? Thankfully, they're not. They have nothing in common besides the simple premise that both are centered around a famous NFL player. But, they present an important dichotomy: why does one article about an alleged murderer and his descent garner significantly more attention than one about a rags-to-riches (but-still-humble) success story, in which a father is telling his daughter to be strong and kind and to think independently?
A murder case is always going to earn press, especially one involving a national icon. Even if we separate the case itself from the Rolling Stone Magazine article, we are still trying to compare and measure two stories -- the months-long Hernandez case and the single-instance Foster article -- that are drastically different in scale.
However different the two stories are in size, the moral question still arises: will we ever care more about a positive story than a negative one? It's been nearly a month since Hernandez pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and Foster's article was posted. We're still talking about Hernandez; the only mentions of Foster can be found in fantasy football circles.
I'm not suggesting that we should ignore a substantial legal case involving the death of a man's life in place of a feel-good story.
I am suggesting, though, that we give more of our time and attention to the stories that move us for the right reasons. When reading Foster's post, I was interested, emotionally struck, and grateful; it was a smart piece that holds real meaning coming from someone with Foster's social standing -- which is, as written at the bottom of his post, "a loving father, devoted husband, philosopher, artist, poet, philanthropist, health warrior, and fashion enthusiast. He also is a three-time Pro Bowl running back for the NFL’s Houston Texans."
We aren't responsible for the actions, good or bad, that others commit -- professional football players or anyone else. We are, however, responsible for our actions, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to spread the good instead of the bad. The next time you read an article about an NFL player doing something good in the world, think twice before you click away from it to see another story about a player getting arrested.