In an interview that aired this morning on Good Morning America, Elissa Ennis explains the abuse she says she sustained from her ex-boyfriend, NFL linebacker Reuben Foster, her reaction to Washington’s decision to sign Foster just days after the 49ers released him following his second domestic-violence arrest, and why she had recanted a previous abuse allegation against Foster from earlier this year.
“When he got signed, I was, like, ‘I can’t believe somebody picked him up,’” Ennis says of Washington’s decision to claim Foster on waivers on Nov. 27. “I was shocked.”
Ennis also says in the interview that someone with the Niners—she didn’t specify who it was—tried to tell police she was the same woman who had lied about him abusing her before.
The interview with GMA’s Linsey Davis includes a portion of the audio from Ennis’s 911 call along with graphic photos of the bruises Ennis says were left on her collarbone and cheek on Nov. 24, the night Foster was arrested at the 49ers team hotel in Tampa, Fla., and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. In her GMA interview, Ennis accuses Foster of knocking her cell phone from her hand, slapping her in the face, and pushing her. The 49ers released Foster before dawn the next morning, but not before Foster says an unnamed person or persons from the team got involved.
“I felt like they didn’t believe me,” Ennis says. “Even when I called the police, the 49ers came up there—I have pictures of the 49ers coming up there, trying to talk to the police and say I’m the same ex-girlfriend that [sat] up there and lied.”
Ennis, who dated Foster on and off for four years, says they were on a break when Foster invited her to Tampa to work on their relationship, even though he had been seeing someone else.
“I told him that I was going to tell his new girlfriend that he paid for my flight out there, so that’s what triggered it,” Ennis says.
Ennis says she and Foster both had been seeing therapists. She says this was the third time Foster abused her; she called the police on two of those occasions, and another time a neighbor had called for help. In February, Foster was charged with felony domestic violence in California after he was arrested following an incident in which the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office accused him of punching Ennis “8 to 10 times,” rupturing her ear drum, and throwing her out of the house they shared by her hair.
In May, during a preliminary hearing in San Francisco to determine whether that case should move forward, Ennis recanted everything, saying she had lied to ruin his career. She explains why she did that to GMA.
“Because I loved him, and love will have you doing things that’s not in your best interests for the person you love,” Ennis says before adding that she “was not telling the truth” when she told the court she was lying.
In light of that, Davis asks Ennis about her credibility. Shortly after she begins to answer, Ennis starts crying.
“I did what I had to do for the person I love; I thought that he would change,” she says. “Anybody in my position, they would do the same thing, if they shared a family with this person. He used to come crying to me telling me he didn’t have anybody. If somebody that you love comes crying to you, telling you that they didn’t have anybody, you would do the same thing, too. That’s why I did what I did, because I loved him.”
Asked if she still loves Foster, Ennis says, “I’ve been getting help and stuff like that. This is not love. Love won’t do you like that. This is not love. No, I’ve been getting help, but it’s not love.”
The 49ers did not comment to GMA. [Update: The team later issued the following statement: “The 49ers fully cooperated with authorities, assisted in locating Mr. Foster and in no way impeded their investigation.”] Pending the criminal case against him, Foster has been placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and cannot practice or play. As a 2017 first-round pick, his 49ers contract that totaled more than $9 million was guaranteed through 2020, but Foster forfeited the remaining $2.5 million in guarantees when he was arrested in January on an unrelated marijuana charge that resulted in a two-game suspension. He served that suspension at the start of the 2018 season.*
You can watch a portion of Ennis’s GMA interview below.
* An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Foster’s 49ers salary was still guaranteed.