DAVIE — If anyone on the Dolphins’ staff should know how drugs can get in the way of the best-laid plans, it should have been Chris Foerster.
Foerster had just been promoted to offensive coordinator by the Dolphins in the spring of 2004 when he made a declaration that almost overnight slipped into the famous-last-words category.
“Ricky is your go-to guy,” Foerster said of running back Ricky Williams — just before Williams “retired” from the NFL in part because he grew tired of the league’s ban on marijuana.
Without Williams, the only place Foerster’s offense went was downhill. The Dolphins went 4-12 in a season Foerster called a “disaster.” Head coach Dave Wannstedt didn’t survive the year, leading to the arrival of Nick Saban, who didn’t retain Foerster.
Monday, Foerster, 55, was on the outs from Davie once again, abruptly resigning as offensive line coach after video surfaced that showed him snorting three lines of white powder.
Even for a franchise that has endured its share of bizarre situations (Bullygate? Lawrence Timmons going AWOL? The Laremy Tunsil video?), Foerster’s departure registers on the scale of strange turns.
“Chris is going to do a great job for the Dolphins,” was one endorsement issued when Foerster was named offensive coordinator by Wannstedt over two men on staff who had coordinator experience: Marc Trestman and Jerry Sullivan.
The man who predicted great things for Foerster: Peyton Manning.
“When he was here in Indianapolis, I appreciated his input in our offense, and I know our tight ends — Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark — did as well,” Manning said. “He brings knowledge and passion to the game and will be a true asset in Miami.”
Instead, it wasn’t long before Dolphins players, including quarterback A.J. Feeley, were complaining that the offense seemed rudderless. Williams eventually said he walked away in part because he wasn’t happy the way Foerster planned to use him and the fact Trestman hadn’t been given the role.
How much of it could be pinned on Foerster was subjective.
“When you lose your best player on the offensive side of the ball, that’s huge,” Foerster said after being promptly hired by the Baltimore Ravens as offensive line coach and assistant head coach. “These aren’t excuses. We had chances to win games. We were playing with practice-squad runners.”
Foerster went on to say there was “no comparison” to the talent he would have to work with in Baltimore, calling it a “physical, hard-nosed group of offensive linemen.”
Foerster’s boss with the Ravens was Brian Billick, who once called him one of the finest coaches he ever worked with. But the Ravens went 6-10 their first season together, followed by 13-3 (and a first-round playoff exit) and 5-11.
In discussing Foerster’s resignation Monday, Dolphins coach Adam Gase expressed disappointment of losing a hard worker who would show up at the facility at 4 a.m.
But Foerster has had his critics over the years beyond Feeley and Williams. He coached in Tampa Bay for six seasons — working with current Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen part of the time — and coaching an offensive lineman named Ian Beckles, who became a radio host. Beckles once called Foerster the worst coach he ever had, although Beckles conceded he had personal issues with Foerster.
Less controversial is the concept that Foerster was seemingly born to be a coach. His mother, Lucinda, once recalled for The Miami Herald how her son used to arrange trading cards on the living room floor as if they were players in formation. At about age 6.
He’d probably been inspired a year prior, watching his beloved Green Bay Packers win the historic “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL Championship Game against Dallas.
“We went out and played football in a driving snow because we were so fired up,” Foerster told The St. Petersburg Times in 2000. “That’s the way it was. I loved football and I really loved Packer football.”
He was described as an overachieving walk-on center at Colorado State in the 1980s, even retaining his starting role one season with a broken wrist.
His workaholic nature was such that when he first joined the Dolphins’ staff, he spent months without a mattress in his new home, saying he didn’t have time to shop for a bed.
At one point in his career, Foerster enjoyed a run of eight playoff appearances over an 11-year span. As recently as January, Gase and the Dolphins rejected overtures from Los Angeles Rams, who had requested permission to interview Foerster for a coaching position.
In the end, Foerster’s second go-round with the Dolphins didn’t end any more happily than his first.
“It’s great to be back,” Foerster said upon returning last year. “I don’t want to talk about last time. It wasn’t a great stop, but it was a great experience for me from that standpoint. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to coordinate in a real catastrophic year. It was awful.
“All the hurricanes hit the state. I was in this building more when the power was off than when it was on during that year. It was crazy with the hurricanes.”
Monday, it seemed, not all that much had changed.