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Thursday, September 18, 2014         

PRO BOWL


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Hello, Arian Foster here

The Texans running back has gone from unlisted to favorites in slightly more than one season in the NFL

By Stephen Tsai

POSTED:


During a group interview with All-Pro running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, a reporter's cell phone began ringing.

"Really?" Foster said, turning to the reporter. "During an interview? Really? We can't put that on vibrate? Answer that. Let me answer it."

TODAY

» Practice: At Aloha Stadium, 9:30 a.m. AFC; 10:30 a.m. NFC

TOMORROW

» Pro Bowl game: AFC vs. NFC, 2 p.m. kickoff at Aloha Stadium. Parking gates open 9:30 a.m. Stadium box office opens 9:30 a.m. Turnstiles open 11 a.m. Information: alohastadium.hawaii.gov
When the phone rang again, Foster reached for it, and began talking to the puzzled caller.

Symbolism established: Foster is always willing to answer the call.

Later, Foster said: "When opportunity calls, you have to be ready."

Indeed, that was the lesson for Foster and Texans fullback Vonta Leach. Both will participate in the Pro Bowl for the first time. Both entered the NFL as undrafted free agents.

"Patience is a virtue," Foster said. "Keep doing what you want to do and eventually things will happen."

Leach said: "Two undrafted guys. ... It shows if you work hard ... it equals success. We went out and showed what we could do."

After not being selected in the 2004 draft, Leach was contacted by all 32 NFL teams.

"I chose Green Bay to start with," Leach said. "I felt Green Bay was the best for me. The rest is history."

But history is not always kind, and two years later, he was cut by the Packers.

"You're in the league long enough, you'll see a lot of stuff, you'll go through a lot of stuff," said Leach, who eventually signed with Houston. "You can never lose sight that you can play in this league."

Foster also felt the sting of disappoint when he was ignored in the 2009 draft. Foster, who majored in philosophy at Tennessee, was philosophical.

"Whatever is handed to you in life, you have to take it," Foster said.

He signed with the Texans in May 2009, was cut in September of that year, then re-signed the next day to the practice squad.

"It's playing ball, but you don't get paid as much," Foster said of his time on the practice squad.

He was promoted to the active roster in November 2009.

In the 2010 opener, Foster rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns. A few weeks later, he made a name for himself - in fantasy football leagues across the country.

"I didn't even know what that was until the middle of the season," he said. "Now I do. That's cool (that) people think highly of you."

On the final day of the regular season, Foster ran for 180 yards, finishing with 1,616 to win the 2010 rushing title. It was the last game of the season for the Texans, but not for Foster and Leach.

"I always wanted to come out here," Leach said, gazing at Ko Olina's postcard-perfect setting. "This is the top of the NFL, the best of the best."

Foster said: "This is beautiful. It's like heaven. I'll die and go to Hawaii. That's all right with me."

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