The Countdown Reaches Epic Proportions: #2

Have you showered off that filthy, grimy feeling you were left with after reading numbers 3-5 on “The Countdown to Failure” ?

You know, that feeling you’ve gotten when you watched Jeff Backus commit his 3rd holding penalty of the first half. Or the feeling you got when the “Nolan Ryan” or long snappers, Don Muhlbach, snapped the most errant of snaps against the Vikings. Or the feeling you got when Danny O tried his infamous 120-yard touchdown pass from beyond the endzone.

Well, my friends, it’s about to get worse. A whole lot worse.

Without further ado, I introduce to you the #2 player on this list to end all lists.

#2 Charles Rogers (wide receiver, Michigan St.): 1st round, pick #2, 2003.

One year after drafting “franchise” quarterback Joey Harrington, the GM-who-shall-not-be-named and his cronies went fishing for their first primetime wide receiver since the great Herman Moore.

The Lions’ connections to Charles Rogers ran deep. Too deep.

Rogers grew up in Saginaw, a mere 2ish hours from Detroit. He then headed to East Lansing to don the green and white of the home-state MSU Spartans when it came time to elevate his game to the collegiate level.

Bobby Williams, the Spartans’ head coach from 2000-2002, was integral in the recruitment of Rogers to MSU. He then shifted to Detroit as the Lions’ wide receivers coach for the 2003 season, not coincidentally, the season the Lions grabbed Rogers with the 2nd overall pick.

Former MSU head coach, Bobby Williams, was likely a key figure in the Lions' drafting of local standout, Charles Rogers

Former MSU head coach, Bobby Williams, was likely a key figure in the Lions' drafting of local standout, Charles Rogers

After a monster career at State, including receiving the 2002 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver, Rogers seemed like a perfect fit for the Lions. Hometown kid makes good with the big club. It’s the oldest story in the book.

Sadly, Rogers quickly became a victim of both uncontrollable circumstances and his own powerful personal demons.

Rogers got off to a fast start in his rookie season of ’03, hauling in 22 passes for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns during his first 5 professional games. Then, during practice before week 6, Rogers broke his collarbone in a drill and missed the rest of the season.

Expected to return at 100% for ’04, Rogers re-injured his collarbone on the third play of the year and, once again, was ruled out for the season.

Subsequent to his second collarbone break, Rogers’ life began to rapidly spiral out of control.

In 2005, the NFL suspended Rogers 4 games for a third violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

A short time later, the Detroit Free Press reported that Rogers had failed at least one drug test in each of his seasons at Michigan St.

Unable to shake his drug problems and increasingly out of shape, Rogers was sent packing by the Lions in early September of ’06. The Lions have since filed a grievance against him, seeking to recoup much of the bonus money paid to Rogers, claiming that his failed drug test(s) constitute a breach of his contract. The Lions have since won that grievance.

After his rookie season, Rogers caught just 14 passes and 1 touchdown before getting the ax from the Lions.

Had Charles Rogers loved football as much as weed, he would've had a chance to become of the league's bright young stars. Instead, he's out of football.

Had Charles Rogers loved football as much as weed, he would've had a chance to become of the league's bright young stars. Instead, he's out of football.

What seemed on the surface to be a match made in heaven, was clearly a disaster waiting to happen.

Had the Lions done their proper due diligence, perhaps they would have learned about Rogers’ rampant drug use in college. The collarbone injuries are by no means his fault, but spotting a guy who parties too hard and gets by too much on natural talent and not enough on good old fashioned hard work shouldn’t be particularly difficult.

The red flags were there. The Lions’ brass simply failed to see them waving in the breeze.

As if the Lions’ selection wasn’t bad enough, the very next pick in the draft, Andre Johnson (WR, Houston Texans), has become one of the league’s best wideouts.

Additionally, of the first 11 picks in the 2003 NFL Draft, 7 have made at least one Pro Bowl.

That doesn’t even include the other gems of the ’03 first round, like Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Colts tight end Dallas Clark, and Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, just to name a few.

Sometimes a draft pick fizzles and fails so spectacularly that, as a fan, you can only be left wondering how in the world things could possibly have gone so horribly wrong.

The Lions’ selection of Charles Rogers is one of those terrible instances when incompetence met indifference, producing one of the biggest busts in recent NFL history. As ESPN’s Jemele Hill reported back in August, there is a certain level of sadness associated with the failure of Charles Rogers. Some of that sadness, though, comes from the Lions’ fans who saw his star fade away so suddenly after joining Detroit in ’03.

…Stay tuned for #1 on “The Countdown to Failure.”


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2 Responses to “The Countdown Reaches Epic Proportions: #2”

  1. Leshnock Says:

    There was no excuse for this pick. The Lions knew he was bad news, and still took Rogers over Andre Johnson, among others.

  2. ksully11 Says:

    I didn’t understand the majority of this post because I don’t know anything about football. But Charles Rogers looks like a babe in that clip.

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