But retired NFL lineman Ian Beckles, who played one season for Foerster in Tampa Bay, always suspected something was off about his ex-coach.
“He never had any type of relationship with his players,” Beckles said on his podcast this week. “He just was all about himself and there was something creepy about him. From what I heard, he drove up really big bills watching porn at the complex.”
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Beckles, who admittedly “hates” Foerster and called him an “enemy” after a professional falling out, certainly has an ax to grind. But it doesn’t make his account untrue. Rather, Beckles gave voice to a salacious rumor that has bounced around the league for years, and one that might not explain Foerster’s reckless behavior, but at least provides context.
Foerster quit Monday before the Dolphins could fire him, likely ending a 35-year career in coaching. The Dolphins said in a statement that they have “no tolerance for this behavior.”
Efforts to reach Foerster for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Foerster, who turns 56 on Thursday, likely will not be subject to criminal prosecution if indeed it was cocaine or another controlled substance that he snorted.
“At this time we do not have an open investigation,” said Capt. Dale Engle of the Davie Police Department. “No one from the Dolphins organization has reached out to us nor do we have any information that this occurred in Davie. At this time we don't have anything to go on.”
Still, Foerster’s apparent drug use — and his decision to videotape it — sealed his fate in Miami. And yet people within the organization say he exhibited no signs of substance abuse before this incident.
However, Foerster has always been a little off, past associates told the Miami Herald. One called him an “odd bird” with “strange peculiarities,” and said that his behavior on the video — Foerster spoke bluntly about his desire to perform a sex act on dancer Kijuana Nige — was not surprising.
Still, if you judge a man by his friends, that account seems incomplete. This was Foerster’s second stint with the Dolphins. He was their offensive coordinator in 2004, and Tony Dungy — viewed by many as a reputable broadcaster and former coach who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — at the time went to bat for his longtime colleague.
Former Ravens coach Brian Billick, the late Dennis Green, ex-FIU coach Ron Turner and Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen are also among Foerster’s past advocates.
And even on Monday, when left to clean up Foerster’s mess, Dolphins coach Adam Gase acknowledged that parting ways with his friend and peer since 2008 was difficult because they were close.
Foerster apologized to Gase shortly after Nige posted the explosive video on Facebook late Sunday, and Foerster’s only public remarks on the matter since have come via a team-released statement. He took full responsibility for his actions and said his “sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.”
Foerster is married and a father of three, but wife Michelle, a nurse, has lived and worked in the greater Tampa area — away from her husband — for years.
They were married in 1985, when Foerster was an assistant offensive line coach at Colorado State. How long their marriage was strong, however, remains unclear.
In a Miami Herald profile of Foerster from 2004, his first stint with the organization, he acknowledged he was living apart from his family, but passed it off as a logistical issue. In her LinkedIn profile, Michelle Foerster claims she has worked in St. Petersburg for 20 years; her husband has lived in five other cities since 1997.
But despite any personal issues — including owing tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes — Foerster must have been good at his job. He kept getting hired. Foerster has worked for seven NFL teams in 26 seasons, and he was among the league’s highest paid assistants when he quit, reportedly making at least $2.5 million annually.
Gase praised Foerster’s work ethic Monday, saying “since I’ve been around him, he’s been a guy that just put his head down and worked. He was here at 4 in the morning, worked as hard as he could for us.”
Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi told the Herald earlier this year that “Chris Foerster is one of the best line coaches in football.”
Foerster built a successful career by largely staying out of the public eye — and out of trouble. A records search suggests that Foerster has no existing criminal record in Florida.
And while plenty of his former players are critics, he also has allies.
Retired center Mike Flynn worked with Foerster in Baltimore. And while Flynn, who is now a sports radio host in Boston, declined to discuss the specifics of Foerster’s controversy, he was broadly supportive.
“[Foerster] was a great coach and very professional during my three years with him,” Flynn said in a text. “Was a straight shooter and great to work with.”
But compare that with Beckles’ recollection of their time together, and it sounds like they are talking about two totally different people.
“He was the worst coach I’ve ever been around,” Beckles said. “... You can ask some other guys I played with, I've talked to them about it and they agree with me. He never taught anybody anything.”