Nov. 11 (UPI) — Former Detroit Lions wide receiver and No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick Charles Rogers has died at 38 years old. Rogers’ death was announced Monday morning.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charles Rogers,” the Lions said in a statement. “From Saginaw, to East Lansing, to Detroit, Charles’ connection to the state of Michigan and its football community was felt by many during the course of his life.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his friends and family during this difficult time.”
The Saginaw, Mich., native was selected with the second pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He played three seasons for the Lions after starring at Michigan State.
“Devastated to learn of the passing of my spartan brother Charles Rogers,” former Michigan State and NFL tight end Chris Baker tweeted. “Spoke with his mom this morning. Please pray for her and his children. Please also be respectful of their privacy at this difficult time. R.I.P. Chuck.”
Former Saginaw High School coach Don Durrett told the Detroit Free Press that he learned of Rogers’ passing from several of his former players, who said he died overnight.
“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,” Durett told the Free Press. “We’re talking about basketball, football and track together. He could have had a scholarship in all three sports.”
Rogers dealt with drug issues and painkiller addiction during and after his NFL career, resulting in failed drug tests and a suspension. He was released before the 2006 season, before working out for the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, but never returned to the league.
Rogers had 22 catches for 243 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season, setting career highs.