Yesterday, Washington claimed former San Francisco linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers two days after the 49ers released him, following his second charge of domestic violence this year. Washington was the only team to put a claim in on Foster, most likely because no other team wanted take on the burden of a past that includes two DV accusations this year alone, certainly not within days of the latest one.
His most recent arrest was this weekend on domestic violence charges following an incident with his ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, in the team hotel before Sunday's game at Tampa Bay. Foster previously was arrested in February when Ennis first accused him of domestic violence, allegations she later retracted.
What message is Washington and team owner Dan Snyder sending to the public by picking up Foster? That quite frankly they don't give a fuck.
Washington would be hard pressed to say that the decision to pick up Foster was well vetted, with reports that only one team checked in with Tampa police to investigate the matter—the Philadelphia Eagles. Further reports out of Washington indicate that many members of the front office were not even on board with the decision in the first place. President Bruce Allen is taking the fall for this one as Washington begins to throw each other under the bus in pure damage control mode for the most foreseeable backlash in the history of backlashes.
That old sports trope of Washington being able to say that they did their "due diligence" flew right out the window because it seems Washington has taken a cue from the city it calls home and doesn't even have to bother with the formalities of making garbage look presentable; Just do something terrible and dare someone to do something about it.
Washington makes this statement directly in the face of a global movement to reject the kind of toxic masculinity of which Foster has been repeatedly accused, reinforcing the NFL's reputation for being impervious to the world around it. Things might be accelerating at the speed of light around them, but teams like Washington can afford to get away with being stuck deeply in the past.
And this wouldn't be Washington's first time this year turning a blind eye to the #MeToo movement. Reports came out in May that cheerleaders were being exploited, including being asked to escort wealthy sponsors to a nightclub, and allowing members access to topless beach photoshoots featuring the cheerleaders.
Foster's case has still yet to wind its way through the criminal justice system, nor has the NFL finished its own investigation—though he is going on the Commissioner's Exempt list. Washington made pains to explain that Foster would never play before those two things were conducted and they were satisfied with the results, but it's still such an unnecessary (and totally Washington-level stupid) gamble.
Washington's decision to pick up Foster is archaic and disgusting and indicative of the too-big-to-fail qualities of the NFL, where winning and talent take precedence over humanity. What's particularly disconcerting is that Washington seems to be making this decision, which does not ever guarantee Foster will actually play for them, as a sort of flyer. Washington willingly took on all this heat, voluntarily went extremely high risk for a very low reward, simply because they know they can get away with it.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.