Redskins linebacker Mason Foster apologized Thursday for “inappropriate language and derogatory remarks” that were sent to fans from his since-deactivated Instagram account earlier this month.
Foster, a team captain, did not appear in Washington’s locker room when it was open to the media Wednesday or Thursday, instead issuing the apology via a team spokesman Thursday afternoon. He said the messages were sent by a cousin who had been using his account to promote a charity initiative.
Foster’s apology came a day after Redskins Coach Jay Gruden was asked about a private Instagram conversation between Foster and a fan that was posted on social media. Images of the conversation showed a message from Foster’s account reading “F--- this team and this fan base” following Washington’s loss to the Eagles on Dec. 3.
“I want to clear up some issues that have recently come to light in regards to comments that were made on my Instagram page to my fans and followers,” Foster said in the statement. “Following the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, I gave my cousin permission to run my Instagram account to drive awareness for the My Cleats My Cause game the following week. It was brought to my attention this week that he was engaging fans on the platform in a negative light and was responding to messages directed at me with inappropriate language and derogatory remarks. Once I was made aware of this the account was immediately deactivated.”
Images of other private Instagram conversations involving Foster’s account, which were shared on social media and Reddit this week, showed messages from Foster’s account that directed a homophobic slur, profanity and aggressive language at fans, including high schoolers.
“These remarks in no way reflect my ideals and values as a teammate and a man,” Foster said in the statement. “I want to sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Redskins organization and most importantly the fans for the negativity that these messages created.”
Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams addressed Foster’s Instagram’s comments during a radio interview Thursday, saying he was “very, very” disappointed in the eight-year veteran.
“It’s unfortunate that one of your players would say that, man,” Williams said during his weekly appearance on The Team 980, which aired before Foster issued the apology. “I would not condone that at all. . . . You walk out there every day, you play the game to the best of your ability. The last thing you want to do is pour on the team or on the fans. I’ll be honest with you, I’m very, very disappointed with Mason Foster. Here’s a guy that’s been in the league a long time, and you wouldn’t expect it out of him.”
It was not clear if Williams was aware of the additional comments from Foster’s account that surfaced Thursday.
The man Foster identified as his cousin claimed on Twitter Wednesday night that he had been running Foster’s Instagram account before it was deactivated, and apologized for the comments from Foster’s account.
“Mason has not been on social media for almost a month now as ya’ll know his twitter is gone,” the man tweeted, in part. “When I was sending those messages To fans I did not think they would be screen shot and sent out to the Public to try and Damage his reputation or character.”
Foster said he took responsibility for letting the cousin use his account.
“Ultimately, the decision to allow my cousin to run my social media lies on my shoulders,” he said in the statement, “and I take full responsibility for the damage this has caused.”
Gruden had expressed disappointment Wednesday with the fan who first made Foster’s comments public.
“He broke a code there that I don’t agree with,” Gruden said. “ . . . As far as Mason, I have nothing but respect for him as a person and a player.”
But Williams was more critical of the player.
“I’m not going to blame the [fan] who posted it, because my thing is you don’t say it,” Williams said in the radio interview. “It’s kind of like over the years with the media and everybody, anytime anybody walks up to you and tells you it’s off the record, I want to let you know now, it’s on the record.”
Williams was asked by The Team 980 host Doc Walker if the Redskins have a social media policy for players, and if there’s a standard in place for punishing players when they violate that policy.
“I think it’s tough for an organization to tell a guy about his social media, but I do think it’s left up to the head coach to do whatever discipline, do whatever he has to do,” Williams said.
Walker noted that some fans felt that Foster should have been disciplined for the social media posts.
“Doc, I hear you,” Williams said. “You’ve been to my office. My office is on the lower end of the community. The decision that has to be made as far as if there is anything to be done is not down here. It has to be between the coaches and players and things like that. I’d be out of my element. It’s alright for me to talk to Mason, me and him, but it would be out of my element to say this is what we need to do to Mason Foster.”
Teammates defended Foster this week, with some saying they felt badly that his private messages had been exposed.
Les Carpenter contributed to this report.
Read more on the Redskins: