Foxworth Finds New Purpose in Straight Talk on Sports Mediaby Liam Farrell | Photo by John T. Consoli
Domonique Foxworth ’04 has never taken the typical path of a pro athlete, which is probably why his latest foray into sports media feels so surprising.
“I didn’t want to be the cliché,” says Foxworth, a star UMD cornerback who retired from the NFL after six seasons in 2012, then headed to Harvard Business School for his MBA. “It wasn’t what I had planned, but it’s worked out well.”
Which is not to say that Foxworth’s current role as a commentator is designed around a stereotypical, aw-shucks-nostalgia image of the football booth; as an ESPN pundit and host of the web show “I Don’t Give a Damn,” he spent the last NFL season looking to make waves with hard truths.
His biggest goal, Foxworth says, has been to maintain a player’s perspective seven years since he last donned a helmet.
He got some attention for doing just that during the early weeks of the 2019 NFL season, when he described the Miami Dolphins roster fire sale following jaw-dropping losses as “unethical and morally reprehensible.”
A handful of peers thought it was over the top, with one Miami Herald writer saying roster dismantling wasn’t so uncommon and calling Foxworth’s perspective “just silly.” But Foxworth counters that he was simply applying his empathy for players who got a dream job in a bad situation—“I know how hard it is to get there”—along with his business education and the obligations that employers have to provide a safe environment conducive to success.
“When it comes down to it, (playing in the NFL) is a job,” he says. “Many of the same things that apply to other careers apply to this one.”
Advocating for professional athletes isn’t new to him. While in the NFL, Foxworth was elected president of the NFL Players Association, and following his time at Harvard he became the chief operating officer of the National Basketball Players Association. But he only lasted a year, worn out by the long hours and subway rides.
Foxworth started writing during his self-imposed sabbatical and found a voice at The Undefeated, an ESPN project devoted to discussing the intersection of race, sports and culture. He’s talked to Baltimore Ravens legend Ed Reed about race and policing, explored the use of cognitive tests in the NFL combine, and documented the mental and emotional struggles that come with trying to keep a roster spot.
“I understand when I see players crying after suffering an injury, or snapping on coaches, teammates or fans after a game,” he wrote. “They might be carrying a weight heavier than the final score.”
And while being an outsider commenting on sports took some getting used to, Foxworth finds satisfaction in trying to find new and under-covered angles within the daily sports grind.
“It often feels more impactful than anything I can do,” he says.
On his new show, Foxworth speaks up on the NFL’s burning questions and biggest news:
ON ABOLISHING THE NFL DRAFT:
“Instead of having the teams go up and choose the player, why can’t we make it free agency? … Often the problem is that a team is not prepared to build around the player in the right way.”
ON THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING A WORKOUT FOR COLIN KAEPERNICK:
“No team really feels confident or feels like they can trust Kaepernick to be on their team, and I can understand that he feels like he can’t trust them.”
ON PROBLEMS WITH NFL INJURY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT:
“There is just a problematic conflict of interest when your medical professional is being paid by the team. I don’t know what the future is, but it would be great to get to a point where they have a complete third party tending to all the injuries.”
ON THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS:
“It’s hard to root for them as long as they don’t change that name. You gotta change that name at some point.”
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