3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 85 SAM LB Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Photo courtesy: Rod Pedersen

Like a fine wine, Otha Foster gets better with age.

After kicking around the NFL for bit, Foster didn’t find a home in Canada until shortly before his 26th birthday. This was partly due to his time serving in the U.S. Marine Corps at a young age and also from being a late bloomer.

That’s not young for CFL rookies at any position, especially for defensive back or linebacker. Playing the strong-side (SAM) linebacker position, Foster is a hybrid of the two positions and has been — for either Chris Jones, Ed Hervey, or both — throughout his five-year CFL career.

After playing some preseason games for the Kansas City Chiefs at the start of his career, the University of West Alabama product broke out in 2014 under rookie head coach Chris Jones with the Edmonton Football Team.

Jones was so impressed with Foster that the bench boss immediately used his rookie find — Hervey had scooped Foster up in an off-season trade with the Argos — in a starting role and on special teams throughout the season.

It all paid off with an improved defence for Edmonton and even a 57-yard blocked punt return touchdown for Foster. A Grey Cup championship a year later convinced Foster that working for Jones was a match made in heaven. So much so, he followed his boss to Saskatchewan in 2016.

The re-building Riders limped and scraped their way to a 5-13 record while Foster was arguably their best player on either side of the football. The Baltimore Ravens took notice and gave him a tryout in 2017.

Foster made it to cutdown, but no further, and he was back in Saskatchewan to see the new stadium for the final three games of that season before joining Hervey’s B.C. Lions in 2018, where he earned his first West Division all-star selection.

Right in the prime of his career, Foster opted to step aside and start his own business, rather than play for a low-ball salary in the Canadian Football League.

Home healthcare for disabled veterans and their spouses was fulfilling enough to lure Foster away from the cut-throat reality of pro football north of the border.

Foster’s dad was a disabled dialysis patient and his son had been his main care-giver from the age of eight until his father passed away 14 years later.

Foster missed the game enough to come back for the 2020 season, signing a free agent deal with the Roughriders for a third tour of duty with the Green and White in February of this year.

COVID-19 nixed that from happening, but there’s still a possibility for 2021 as the 32-year-old is a fan of defensive coordinator Jason Shivers’ schemes that are ‘similar but different’ from Chris Jones.

Perhaps the best summary of Otha Foster’s feelings about Canada came from a tweet in February of this year.

“I went to the casino last night in Edmonton and was playing blackjack with some kids. They had to be like 19-21. One black, Middle Eastern and Asian kid. I would never see anything like that in Louisiana! That’s why I love Canada!”

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DL John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.