Should The NFL Stay Far Away From Charles Rogers?

By PFC Writer Brian Harrington

NFL draft bust Charles Rogers is looking to get his foot back into the NFL and according to league reports, he is in the best shape of his life but this begs the question should a NFL team take the risk in signing him? Rogers is prepared to make a full commitment to get back into the league.  According to Rogers, the change in attitude came two months ago, about the same time he finished a month in jail for testing positive for alcohol and for falsifying Alcoholics Anonymous records. ‘I know my next shot might be my last shot,” Rogers said. “I know I have to work harder than I ever worked before. I’m willing to do that.’

We have to not only look at the lack of performance on the field that Rogers displayed but also the off the field conduct as well. During the 2005 season, Rogers was suspended 4 games for a third violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. As a result of this violation, the Lions filed a grievance, claiming that his drug suspension violated a clause in his contract, which would mean Rogers would be obligated to return $10 million of the $14.2 million the Lions gave him in bonuses. The Detroit Free Press would later report that Rogers failed drug tests each year while at Michigan State. So lets look at how the draft scouts in Detroit could actually overlook the character issues and draft Rogers second overall in the 2003 draft.

In college, Rogers did everything he could do on the field to prevent scouts to look to closely at what he did off the field. He won the Biletnikoff award in 2002 and still holds school  records for most TD’s in a career with 27 and most receiving yards in a single game with 270. Yet despite the impressive collegiate career, Rogers proved to be lazy and injury prone when he entered the NFL.

The first 5 games of his NFL career Rogers looked impressive catching 22 passes for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns but all went downhill when he broke his collarbone and was lost for the season. Rogers never recovered from this injury due to enduring the same injury again, the first game of the 2004 season then was suspended in 2005 for four games for a third violation in the NFL’s substance abuse violation. On September 2, 2006, Rogers was released by the Lions. At the time newly hired head coach Rod Marinelli question his work ethic publically which pretty much gave Rogers who already had an issue with alcohol a worst name in the league if that was possible.

After his release, Rogers worked out for the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006, all of whom passed. Reportedly, Rogers worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs in January 2007 and flopped the workout by running a 40-time of 4.8, which was a decline from the 4.28 that he ran at his pro day four years prior (he did not run at the scouting combine). He was arrested in September 2008 and charged with assault and battery of a female acquaintance. In December 2008, Rogers was sentenced to attend sobriety court or face jailtime after violating his probation. He tested positive for vicodin and in March 2009, he was jailed for violating his probation.

So this begs the question if the league will give someone like Koren Robinson who was a repeated league offender of the leagues substance abuse policy then why not give Rogers one more opportunity? I think the clear answer would be maturity, something that Charles Rogers has not shown. Ever since college Rogers has shown that he clearly has substance abuse issues whether its vicodin’s, alcohol or whatever it is but a bunch of draft scouts decided to turn the other cheek based on his on the field performance which clearly was wrong. I find it very hard to believe that school officials at Michigan State did everything they could to rectify the issues that Rogers possessed in college to prepare him for the league.

Lets face it, Rogers has plenty of demons that he needs to overcome and I really don’t think 2 months after being incaracerated that he is “completely healed” and ready to finally grow up and be an NFL star. Rogers, clearly wasn’t ready to handle the money and the huge spotlight that a number 2 overall draft pick handles. I suggest he try out for the United Football League, sign a one year deal and prove to NFL teams and the fans that he is ready to make a comeback and can handle all the glitz and gamour that comes with being an NFL player but how big of a spotlight can the UFL shine on any player right now?