Rogers Apology Doesn't Touch All Teammates

Failing to live up to his expectations, unable to stay healthy, alienating himself from his teammates, and recently a four-game suspension for substance abuse, it is clear that Lions' wide receiver Charles Rogers has problems. Analysis, quotes and more from Lions' insider Mike Fowler.

ALLEN PARK - The NFL made official what had been rumored for the last two days following ESPN's Chris Mortensen's report - Charles Rogers has been suspended by the league for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

The league's statement read; "Charles Rogers of the Detroit Lions has been suspended without pay for the next four regular-season games for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy."

Rogers is eligible to return to the Lionss active roster on Monday, October 31 following the team's October 30 game against the Chicago Bears. Third-year pro from Saginaw, MI, issued a statement to the media:

"Most importantly, I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, my coaches, to this organization, the fans and my friends. I will make no excuses for what I did, and I accept full responsibility for my actions. I let down a lot of people, mainly myself.

"I have no choice but to look forward, learn from my mistakes and do everything in my power not to repeat those mistakes. I am still part of this team and this community because Michigan is my home. I am still young and have a lot of football ahead of me.

"I will guarantee you this: when I return, I fully expect to be the player on the field and the person off the field that everyone expected me to be when I was drafted."

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci weighed in on Rogers' suspension.

"Well as you know I am unable to comment much about it - it's a league issue at this point," Mariucci said. "We are not going to have him for four weeks, we know that and he is going to get himself in great shape, get some things squared away and when he comes back he is going to hit it running."

"In the meantime Mike Williams and Kevin Johnson are going to compete for that spot and some playing time whether it's the X or the Zebra (third receiver) and for four weeks we are going to make due without him. Other than that I don't have anything else that I can say."

Rogers addressed the team privately yesterday morning and Mariucci said he thought that he was sincere, but several players were non-sympathetic to Rogers' plight, expressing that he should have been more responsible.

"[He's] a good friend, man, but I don't feel for him," said Lions receiver Roy Williams. "You know the consequences, if you chose to do that or whatever. But I don't feel for him. You live and you learn." Fullback Cory Schlesinger said he has "no tolerance" for Rogers' actions. Other players were more sympathetic.

With the team struggling to produce offensively, the last thing they need is to lose a starting player from the lineup.

After signing a six-year, $40 million contract including a $14.4 signing bonus, Rogers hasn't done much to earn it to date. He missed most of his rookie season with a broken collarbone and followed that up by missing the entire season last year with the same injury. He's already been docked four game checks and will lose four more during his suspension.

He has to be approaching $200,000 in fines. He also has made reaching some of the incentives in his contract - an additional $14 million - pretty much out of reach.

Adding insult to injury, he seemed to be developing an attitude problem over the fact that second-year receiver Roy Williams and rookie Mike Williams were making more of an impact on the field. It's clear Rogers has a problem.

It's not uncommon for athletes, especially those who perform at an elite level, to be exposed to all kinds of temptations including substance abuse. Rogers isn't the first player to run into such problems. But unless he gets help, perhaps by checking himself into some kind of a top-notch rehabilitation facility, his apology is going to ring hollow.

It's easy to talk about doing something to fix a problem, its tougher to actually discipline yourself and do it.

It's also time for Rogers to stop using his supposed youth and potential as an excuse, that's part of the problem. If he didn't know where he was yesterday, he certainly ought to know where he is today. Three years into his NFL career, he should be producing at a pro-bowl type level, instead he's hit rock bottom and his career is at a crossroad.

He does still have a choice; he can learn from the situation and turn it around (several players who've found themselves in the same situation have done so) or he could find himself out of the league. Another positive test for substance abuse means a mandatory one-year suspension. What NFL team is going to take much of a chance on him after that?

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