Former Lions WR Charles Rogers, second pick of 2003 draft, dies at age 38


Charles Rogers, a brilliant college receiver at Michigan State who didn’t pan out as the second overall pick of the 2003 NFL draft to the Detroit Lions, died at age 38.

The news of Rogers’ death came from former high school and college teammates tweeting about him Monday morning. Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press confirmed the news of Rogers’ death.

Rogers’ NFL career never took off. He played just 15 games with the Lions over three seasons, with 440 yards. He broke his collarbone twice, and told the Lansing State Journal in 2017 he became addicted to Vicodin when he was with the Lions. He also had issues with alcohol and marijuana. Rogers openly said he smoked marijuana every day at Michigan State and during his NFL career.

Rogers had a sad post-NFL tale that included brushes with the law and substance abuse.

When the Lansing State Journal caught up with Rogers in 2017, he was living in Fort Myers, Fla., 30 pounds less than his playing weight of 205 pounds, and upset that friends who were with him when he had a big NFL contract weren’t there for him anymore. The Lansing State Journal said Rogers owed the Lions $6.1 million of his signing bonus, which they filed a grievance to reclaim after Rogers got suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and was later cut, but Rogers told the newspaper, “I ain’t got nothing to pay them.”

Rogers is probably best known as one of the NFL’s biggest draft busts, perhaps the biggest misstep of the infamous Matt Millen era in Detroit. But before that, he was a brilliant receiver at Saginaw High School in Michigan and with Michigan State.

In two seasons with the Spartans, Rogers had 135 catches, 2,821 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was virtually unstoppable on deep passes. He was a 2002 All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award given to college football’s top receiver.

“I’ll tell you, he was – and I’m including Flint, too, since I coached at Flint Northern all those years – he’s the best athlete I ever seen. I mean, honestly,” Don Durett, who coached Rogers at Saginaw High, told the Free Press. “We’re talking about basketball, football and track together. He could have had a scholarship in all three sports. That’s how good. … I haven’t seen nobody that fast that could do it all. He was just a blessed athlete that could do it all.”

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers died at age 38. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers died at age 38. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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