Arian Foster is set to have groin surgery Friday that could keep him out of the Houston Texans' lineup for up to half the 2015 NFL season.
But the Texans' star running back will likely not be praying about the procedure. That's because he doesn't believe in God. Foster makes that shocking admission as part of an ESPN The Magazine feature story in the Aug. 18 issue.
"Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith," he says in the revealing piece. "That's my whole thing — faith isn't enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they're nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash...man, don't be afraid to be you. I was, for years."
Foster, 28, goes on to explain that he was raised Muslim in Albuquerque, NM, and "prayed five times a day, facing east" and that his father "knows the Bible front and back," but being raised a free thinker allowed him to make his own decision.
“I used to believe in a single God and things like that,” Foster says. “As I started to grow into my own being, I just kind of felt, my big thing is I don’t know. Nobody does.”
He also understands how making this admission and being the first star athlete to do so in today's sports scene could be deciphered.
"They're going to stay away from anything taboo, which makes sense," Foster says. "You don't want to ruin endorsements. People might say, 'I don't want an atheist representing my team.' Now, though, I'm established in this league, and as I'm digging deeper into myself and my truth, just being me is more important than being sexy to Pepsi or whoever. After a while, what's an extra dollar compared to the freedom of being you? That's the choice I made."
He continues to say that not believing in God opens him up to all kinds of inaccurate speculation.
"I get the devil-worship thing a lot. They'll ask me, 'You worship the devil?' " he says. " 'No, bro, I don't believe there's a God; why would I believe there's a devil?' There's a lot of ignorance about nonbelief. I don't mean a negative connotation of ignorance. I just mean a lack of understanding, a lack of knowledge, lack of exposure to people like me."
Foster adds: "If a loving, kind Christian, Muslim or Jewish person can't accept a different vantage point, there's just nothing I can do about it. I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you want to believe."
The four-time Pro Bowl running back could miss the first two months of the 2015 NFL season, recovering from his scheduled groin surgery.
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(Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)