‘He would be so happy’: Panthers’ D’Onta Foreman shares motivation behind game

CHARLOTTE — D’Onta Foreman is as physical a running back as there is in the NFL. He sat down for a one-on-one conversation with Channel 9 reporter DaShawn Brown to talk about his skill set and the special bond he has with his family that motivates him.

The first thing she asked about was his punishing running style. His teammates describe him on the field as a “tank” and a “bruiser,” and Foreman said that’s the mindset he has when he gets on the field.

“Be physical. Be dominant. Make them tackle you,” Foreman said. “I don’t know. I feel like with guys start coming up to me and saying, ‘Bruh you’re a big,’ but other opponents start telling me that it’s like, ‘oh yeah. I’ve got you.’ You don’t really want to tackle me. But that’s respect though you know.”

He said that doesn’t mean there isn’t work left to do.

“I think what people underestimate is my ability to get down the field. If I find a crease, I feel like I could be explosive and I’ll run over some guys too, so I’ve got to try to start showing that a little bit more too,” Foreman said.

Foreman said he took home a couple lessons from the Panthers’ first meeting with Atlanta -- a heartbreaker that ended in an improbable 37-34 Falcons victory.

“Honestly for one, they cut me. So that’s something I didn’t forget about,” Foreman said. “Other than that, I just want to win. I just want to win. I want to help the guys and I think if we run the ball well, I think that helps the team, I think that helps the quarterback, I think that helps everybody to get into a rhythm and be able to find the open receivers. We are able to get first downs on third downs, if you’re running at them it just kills the defense.

“I think I take that pride and just know you’ve got to go set the tone.”

Moving on to his jersey number, Foreman said 33 does hold significance for him. He said this past weekend was the first time he’s ever worn the number as a starter without running 100 yards -- which is something that he’s done since college.

“It was crazy that -- So technically when I was the starter or getting the ball, I think this past week was the first time I wore 33 and I didn’t have 100 yards. I was a starter dating back to college. I kind of had a streak going,” Foreman said. “It means a lot to me for what I was able to do in college and also when I got my opportunity to be the guy here in 33. The 100-yard games just started happening -- got to get another one. Got to get another one.”

Brown asked Foreman what his relationship was like with his brother, and if anyone knew Foreman had a twin.

“So he came to the game and he was in the family area and they were like ‘oh wow!’ But it’s only a couple of people,” Foreman said. “I don’t know if people actually know that I have a twin brother, but I know a couple of people know.”

“He was more highly recruited than I was so he got all the offers and all the notoriety up front. But we were so competitive with each other I never took it personally. I was happy for him. I just felt like I had a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong.”

As for what he’s looking to prove:

“A lot of people counted me out and I think it’s been like that for a long time. Even when I was younger. I just have a mentality that I’m going to show you,” Foreman said.

‘I know he would be so happy, so proud of me’

Foreman told Brown he made a promise to his father that got him to where he is today.

“The post-game news conference -- When we had a chance to speak with you after Atlanta, one of the best games we’d seen you put out there -- you shared a promise you made to your father,” Brown said. “What was that promise and why was that at the forefront? I thought back to the kind of performance we all saw that you had.”

Foreman’s reply was an emotional one.

“Man I don’t want to tear up -- but basically, what happened was I was in Atlanta during training camp last year. I just didn’t feel like I got the opportunity that I needed to be able to showcase the ability. So when it was time for the cuts, they wound up cutting me.

“Talking to my dad earlier that morning when it happened, he sat on the phone an hour or two hours -- it might’ve been two hours really. I cried. I told him I don’t know.

“And he told me pretty much that he believed in me, that an opportunity will come. You just got to be patient and believe.

“I went and had a workout in Washington. That didn’t work out. I went to Tennessee, I worked out in Tennessee. I went and worked out for them, maybe it was a Tuesday or Wednesday? That Sunday they called back. Unfortunately Derek broke his foot so they called me back and said ‘you’re going to have to play.’”

Brown asked what he was thinking in that moment.

“That’s God! That’s just God man, it’s nothing that I did to make that happen, you know,” Foreman said.

He said he made a promise to his father, who died just a year ago.

“Before he passed, I told him I promise as any opportunity came in I would take it,” Foreman said.

When describing what his father has meant and still means to him, Foreman reemerged him fondly.

“We had a lot of back-and-forth, we would get into it and bump heads a lot. I think it’s because were so similar,” Foreman said. “He was my biggest fan and also my biggest critic. I think my brother has started to take over that role since my dad is not around.

“I wish I could hear him talk to me about what’s been going on lately because I know he would be so happy, so proud of me. When he was here I wasn’t really planning what I wanted to play.. I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do so it was kind of like he was with me through the roller coaster. But now I’m back and I’m here now.

“I wish he was right there by me but I know he’s watching me, he’s proud of me.

“Every time I step on that field I just want to give it to him. Give it all to him and just show him that man, I’m going to handle the business. I got you. I got you.”

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