Barry Foster was born on December 8, 1968 in Hurst, Texas. He played his college football at the University of Arkansas. After leaving school early, the 5’ 10” 218 pound running back was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with pick 128 overall in round 5 of the 1990 NFL Draft.
From Rookie Woes to Promise
During his rookie season, Barry Foster returned kicks for the Pittsburgh Steelers. On October 21, 1990 against the San Francisco 49ers, Barry Foster made a huge blunder. The Steelers trailed 13-7 and Mike Cofer’s kickoff bounced toward Foster, but he let the ball go and the 49ers recovered. His mistake eliminated the chance for a comeback giving the Niners a 20-7 lead. “I blacked out,” said Foster. “In a punting situation, obviously, you can let it roll. When I finally realized it wasn't a punt, it was too late.” (1)
During a December 23, 1990 game against the Cleveland Browns, Barry Foster showed the first sign of real promise. For the game, he carried the ball 16 times for 100 yards, his first 100-yard game.
Barry Foster – Record Breaking Season
1992 was a magical season for Barry Foster. After being plagued by injuries during his first two seasons, Barry Foster was the featured running back in Head Coach Bill Cowher’s run-oriented offense.
September 13, 1992, Barry Foster and the Steelers played against the New York Jets, who had the number one defense against the run just a year earlier. The game was tied 10-10 and the Steelers had the ball at their own 46-yard line early in the fourth quarter. On the next play, Scott Mersereau came free into the backfield and got an arm on Barry Foster that could have led to a big loss on the play. However, Foster broke his tackle and was off to the races for a 54-yard touchdown. “It's me and him one-on-one,” Mersereau said. “All I had a chance to do was get one arm on him. He's too good a back to arm-tackle, and he was out of there fast.” For the game Foster carried the ball 33 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns. (2)
The Steelers hosted the Colts on November 22, 1992. Barry Foster took the offensive load onto his shoulders and carried the ball 28 times for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also added one catch for another 42 yards, giving him his best yards from scrimmage game of his career, with 210 yards. This was also his eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the year, breaking Franco Harris’ team record. “It was just another day at the office,” said Foster. “I definitely thought I would put up 1,000 yards, but I didn't think I'd have the season I'm having so far.” (3)
December 27, 1992 against the division rival Cleveland Browns, Barry Foster capped off a marvelous season. With just 34 seconds left to play, Foster had a nine-yard run, giving him twelve 100-yard games rushing in a season, tying Eric Dickerson’s record set in 1984. He also added to his record season finishing with 1690 yards rushing, a new Pittsburgh Steelers’ record. (4)
Barry Foster’s Career
Barry Foster got the Bill Cowher era going in Pittsburgh in 1992 and continued his good play through the 1994 season when he was healthy. He made the Pro Bowl following the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
During a September 18, 1994 game against the Indianapolis Colts, Barry Foster had one of his finest performances. Foster had 31 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown. He added 3 catches for another 13 yards – giving him more yards than the entire Colts’ offense. The game was billed as Barry Foster versus Marshall Faulk, but it was no contest. “He (Faulk) wasn't the challenge,” said Foster. “I respond to the challenge the defense gives me.”
Unfortunately, Barry Foster’s career was cut short because of injuries. Even so, he brought the running game back to Pittsburgh. For his career he carried the football 915 times for 3943 yards for a 4.3-yard average, caught 93 balls for 804 more yards and scored 28 touchdowns.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
Barry Foster Biography Sources
(1) 49ers Ease Past Bumbling Steelers, 27-7 (1990, October 22) The Washington Post