Up Next

CulturePlay

Ramon Foster talks about his biggest fear for his sons and who should play him in a movie

The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman loves Bugs Bunny, Maui and instilling work ethic in his children

Veteran offensive lineman Ramon Foster has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers since his NFL career began in 2009. So when asked who is going to the Super Bowl, he gives the expected answer. “Us! The Pittsburgh Steelers, nobody else. I don’t even want to say a ‘but.’ ”

But, to make it, the Steelers have to soar pass the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, which is projected to be one of the best matchups of the 2017 NFL playoffs.

The Ripley, Tennessee, native played football and basketball in high school. He attended the University of Tennessee and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers. As a rookie, Foster had four starts and played in 14 games. He finished 2009 as a starter and followed his second season with eight starts. In 2011, he solidified his starting spot and has been a staple for Pittsburgh’s offense.

He’s nicknamed “The Big Ragu.” He’s 6-feet-7. He’s an iPhone guy. He was once self-conscious about his smile and is huge on work ethic.

He’s now the NFL Players Association representative for the Steelers and a father of two sons, R.J., 8, and Myles, 4. Foster said being a father is one of the most important things he’s done in life. “Two young little black boys have a black father,” he said. “The importance of me being around them, showing them exactly what to do … and just encourage them … being a dad to them … I want that to be one of my biggest accomplishments.”

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received from a male figure in your life?

My granddad — who’s 78 — that’s my rock, that’s my go-to. That’s the guy that I looked up to. And also my Uncle Maurice. Those two showed me how to do a lot of stuff, whether it was driving, whether it was making me get up early, working. They didn’t have to tell me that hard work eventually pays off. My uncle works like 16-hour days at his place in Millington, Tennessee, and my granddad still goes to his car shop every single day. Those two guys are the reasons I work as hard as I do.

How do you instill that work ethic in your boys?

I show them. This past summer was the first time I took R.J. with me to work out and it was hot, of course. This was in Nashville, Tennessee, where I train. I took him out on the field with me to run with me a few times, to show him — this is what I have to do. I told him that the things we have in life right now, the house you stay in, the reason you’re able to go to the football game, it’s why dad does this. I don’t want them to think this lifestyle that they live is something that comes easy, especially with R.J. Because R.J. will be the one to lead Myles. Myles already looks up to him.

“My uncle works like 16-hour days at his place in Millington, Tennessee, and my granddad still goes to his car shop every single day.”

What are you afraid of most for your boys as they grow up?

My biggest fear is R.J. is going to be shot [due to] some type of racial tension or somebody is going to drop a word that he’s not comfortable with, and have to deal with. The areas I grew up around, a lot of people discuss those type of things. It’s going to be left up to me to brief them … as far as race and racism. I want to push them into different avenues of life, to where they don’t have to feel like they’re chasing what I did. I’m helping pave the way for them, but I want them to be who they are.

What will you always be a champion of?

A champion of laughter. Anybody that knows me knows I like to have a good time and make somebody laugh. I hate to see people down. I can kind of read when somebody is having a bad day. [Laughter].

Where does your courage come from?

My mom No. 1 [Foster’s mother died in 2014], and my granddad and uncle.

What’s your primary social tribe?

Instagram and Twitter.

Why?

Because on Facebook, I try to keep it more personal. I don’t do a lot of stuff on Facebook because a lot of people know me from my hometown. Twitter is where I can engage with the fans … and Instagram is solely for entertainment.

What’s your favorite throwback TV show?

Looney Tunes — [The] Bugs Bunny [Show], easily. That show was my comfort zone. Bugs Bunny always got away with stuff and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. So Looney TunesBugs Bunny, or Family Matters.

What’s the last show you binge-watched?

The Office and Parks and Rec. I have to throw Martin in also.

Describe yourself during the offseason.

Relaxed, chill, restful. Because the season pours so much into you mentally and physically that the offseason has to be very relaxed. If you bring stress my way or there is a stressful situation, I avoid it.

Favorite NBA team?

I won’t even say the home team, because I’m not a big Grizzlies fan, but I do support them. I’ll say Chicago. Jordan made me a fan.

“I want to get good at golf just to be able to play golf in Maui. It is so beautiful.”

One thing that’s embarrassing about you that people don’t know.

One thing that embarrasses me about myself is … goodness, let me see — I want to say crooked teeth. I still smile with my lip curled over because of that.

If anyone could play you in a movie, who would it be?

Marlon Wayans. That’s because I’m silly like him. I’m sorry, I’m terrible. I’m a goof and I enjoy it.

When you first started making money, what was your first major purchase?

Flat-screen TV. I always wanted it, I’m a big electronics guy. I was in Best Buy like every Tuesday for no reason. That was an off day and I used to go into Best Buy and look around at the big-screen TVs, flat-screen. I’m bad for my electronics. And some Beats headphones. Because they were like $300. I was not buying those in college.

What makes you sad?

Sad people. Honestly, I’m all about energy. If somebody’s coming in and they’re having a good time, I’m having a good time. But if I see somebody just down and that brings in some bad energy, then that’s somewhat personal for me then.

If you could be anything other than an NFL player, what would you be?

A sports analyst.

Any other place you want to live if you ever moved out of the state of Tennessee?

If I moved out of Tennessee, I would say Colorado. Denver. Or I love New York. I’d probably stay on the Jersey side, but I absolutely love New York.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Hawaii. It is so beautiful. I want to get good at golf just to be able to play golf in Maui. It is so beautiful. The courses overlook the ocean. I just want to ride a cart on there. That’s how good it was.

What are you looking forward to most in 2017?

Just growth. Growth more than anything. Personally, professionally, finding myself into the new … exploring different professions.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.