I went to Lions' game in Chicago Sunday.   We were in row 2, right behind the Lions bench. There were quite a few classless Lion fans around us shouting terrible things at Lion players.  These were Lion fans, not Bear fans.  It was brutal.  I was embarrassed.  Sure, these players make a lot of money---a half million dollars minimum--but they're still human beings.  No amount of salary should allow us to overlook that.  But we do.  101 years ago today, on what is now Veteran's Day, communities burned German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm in effigy.  Charles Rogers wasn't a ruthless, war-mongering dictator.   He was just a football player.

In his two seasons at MSU, the Saginaw native hauled in 135 passes for 2,821 yards and a school record 27 touchdowns. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He signed a $39.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions, which included a $14.4 million signing bonus.  But, life took a turn.   He broke his collarbone in each of his first two seasons.  He got addicted to painkillers.  He got suspended by the NFL for smoking weed.  He lost a couple of steps, and suddenly nobody wanted him.  After it was reported that he failed drug tests at MSU, the Lions went after him in court to get their signing bonus money back.   Rogers was recently working in an auto repair shop in Fort Myers, Florida.

The local TV station interviewed him for a story in 2017.

Rogers fathered eight children with four women, two of whom were born before he graduated from high school.    Clearly, he brought a lot of troubles on himself.  The Lions really didn't help, buy letting him go home after injuries ended his first two seasons pre-maturely, and then giving up on him completely.

A lot of brilliant and gifted people end up like Charles Rogers, a sad fact of life.  Hopefully, his short life will help others avoid some of the mistakes that were made.

In the meantime, I hope Lion fans can find it in their hearts to hold their negative comments on social media.    I'm sure they won't.

Detroit Lions 2005 Headshots
(Photo by Getty Images)




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