The timing, even if coincidental, couldn’t have been any more glaring. Two days after running back Derrius Guice was released following a domestic violence-related arrest, Washington activated Reuben Foster off the Physically Unable to Perform list — the same Foster who has been arrested multiple times on domestic violence charges when with San Francisco 49ers.
Foster’s signing was under a different regime — in 2018, former team president Bruce Allen claimed the linebacker off waivers days after he was waived for another arrest in which he was accused of pushing and slapping a woman — but his presence is hard to ignore.
If coach Ron Rivera wants to instill a new culture for Washington, then why is Foster part of it?Addressing reporters Monday for the first time since Guice’s arrest, Rivera said cutting the 23-year-old running back was a difficult but necessary move, adding it was “best” for the organization.
Rivera added every case is different — which explains why Washington hasn’t moved on from Foster. The key distinction, he said, is that Foster has been legally cleared, as charges were ultimately dropped in each case.
“The one thing Reuben has shown since I’ve been here is that he is doing things the right way,” Rivera said. “He is doing things the way we need him to do and he has been excellent. … Here’s a guy who needed a change of scenery. I think that may be one of the things that has truly benefited him.
“Who knows, that’s what might be needed in Derrius’s case, an opportunity for a change of scenery.”
Rivera didn’t wait to see if Guice’s charges would be dismissed. On Friday, Peter Greenspun, Guice’s attorney, accused Washington of not doing due diligence, saying Guice “adamantly denies” the allegations. Guice faces multiple charges, including a felony for strangulation, stemming from three incidents at the running back’s home in Ashburn, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Rivera called moving on from Guice a “very difficult decision.”
The 2018 second-rounder was expected to compete for a starting spot, and when healthy, Guice showed intriguing potential in five games last season when he averaged 5.8 yards per carry.
But Rivera said he takes the allegations made against Guice “very seriously.” The two met on Friday morning to discuss the situation, which Washington said it first learned about Thursday. Upon learning additional details, Rivera said the choice was made to move on.
On Sunday, Rivera gathered his players and told them that Guice’s release was best for the organization. He told them it was his decision, and he would be accountable for it.
“If it was the right decision, we will benefit from it,” Rivera said. “If it’s not, it will be on me. I will take full responsibility as we go forward to try and make sure we do things the right way. From that, I want to move forward.”
Rivera’s decision to move on from Guice stands in contrast to his handling of wide receiver Cody Latimer. In May, the 27-year-old was arrested on multiple felony charges for allegedly threatening a friend with a gun and firing off the weapon. Washington, however, did not cut Latimer. It instead allowed the NFL to place him on the Commissioner Exempt list, which means Latimer can’t practice or play in games while the case is investigated.
Asked why Latimer wasn’t cut when Guice was, Rivera repeated the team would “look at each situation and each set of circumstances individually.”
Guice’s release came just weeks after 15 former female employees accused five former high-ranking team employees of sexual harassment, the latest in a series of controversies Rivera has had to deal with since accepting the job. The team is also in the process of a name change, abandoning “Redskins” and going temporarily as the “Washington Football Team.”
As a result, Rivera’s duties have expanded beyond a typical football coach. He has collaborated with owner Dan Snyder on possible name replacements, for instance. He also crafted the organization’s response to George Floyd’s death.
“It has been part of what I have to do,” Rivera said. As we look at the entire situation and circumstances of trying to establish who we are as a football team, there are going to be some decisions that will have to be made that are tough and difficult. There are some things that we will continue to grow on and improve. It is hard, but the thing that I’ve got to do and the thing that we all have to understand …we have to honestly think, ‘Is what I’m about to do truly going to help us? Is it going to benefit us, and how is it going to benefit us?‘“In these situations, making those decisions to do what I believe is right, I will continue to do.”
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