Counting Down the NFC North's 5 Biggest Busts: #1, Charles Rogers, WR, Lions

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2012

Detroit Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers watches play during  a Thanksgiving Day game, November 24, 2005, at Ford Field, Detroit.  The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Lions 27 - 7.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

We're going to do this in two sections. First, I'm going to tell you why Rogers is my No. 1.

Then I'll explain why Tony Mandarich was not.

Really, one will tell you the other but just in case, I figure I should lay it out.

Rogers was drafted as the second overall selection in the 2003 NFL draft. This was during the fabled "Millen Golden Age" which might be code for "Apocalypse" if one were inclined.

Rogers was a guy who was highly productive in college, breaking Randy Moss' record for consecutive games with a touchdown and holding the Michigan State record for most touchdowns in a career (27) and most receiving yards in a game with 270.

While Rogers was a big, strong receiver who could dominate a game, he could disappear for stretches and had problems with keeping focus.

When he was on, it was a sight to see. Actually, when he was off it was a sight as well, just not a good one.

In the first two years of his career, Rogers broke his collarbone twice. Both times he was expected to come back in a big way but both times he seemed unable to turn on the talent many had fallen in love with at Michigan State.

There were concerns about his work ethic and mentality as well which only intensified when he was suspended for four games in 2005 for failing a third drug test. The Detroit Free Press would soon after report that he failed a drug test ever single year he was at Michigan State.

Later the team would sue him to regain $8.5 million they considered lost due to his many injuries and drug issues (via

Despite being healthy upon his return from suspension, he was inactive four times and played in only nine games, starting just three times.

In 2006, new head coach Rod Marinelli said he didn't like Rogers' work ethic and cut him. While he tried out for several teams, Rogers never caught another chance to play.

After being released, Rogers had numerous drug issues and would later cite them as the real reason he failed in the NFL (via ESPN).

By the way, for those of you saying 'What about 'Big' Mike Williams? Where is he?', he's not on the list because he's turned his career around. He's played well for Pete Carroll in Seattle.

He was a bad pick for the Lions (who wants a guy that high after a year without playing football?) but had the situation with coaching and a few other things been different, I believe he would have had at least the moderate success he has had the last year or so.

Back to Rogers: He played just 15 games, only nine of which he started. In that time he caught just 36 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns.

That's awful.

By comparison, as bad as Mandarich played, he still managed to play in 86 games, starting 47 of them.

Also, Mandarich got a second chance and turned his life around. He was able to succeed to a modest degree with the Colts and while addiction was also a big reason for his downfall, Mandarich redeemed himself a little in the end.

Rogers kept spiraling and even recently was pulled over with an open container in his car (via Liz Gelardi,

Charles Rogers is a perfect representation of the Lions under Millen. He had talent, but there were warning signs about him which Millen ignored because of his upside. His failure was one part bad luck, two parts injury and a whole lot of stupid decisions on his own part.

While some of it was out of his control, much more of it was in his control.

That's why he's the No. 1 bust on this list.

Got a different opinion—throw it down in the comments. I'm on vacation next week but I will probably read them all anyway because I can't help myself.

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