April 07, 2010
With two weeks and a day until the 2010 NFL draft, it's a very good time for every team to be reminded just how badly a first-round bust can set a team back. If you can add yet another reason to cap on the utterly preposterous career of former Detroit Lions "general manager" Matt Millen, all the better. With the recent news that a district court has ruled that ex-Detroit receiver Charles Rogers(notes) must repay $6.1 million of the $9.1 million signing bonus he received after the Lions took him with the second pick in the 2003 draft, we are yet again brought into the world of measurables with nothing behind them.
Rogers broke his collarbone twice in his first two seasons, was suspended four games in 2005 for a third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, and that suspension triggered acrimony from within the Lions organization - the team said that the violation went against his contract, and they tried to recover money that Rogers would be obligated to return. It later came out that Rogers failed multiple drug tests in college, which was a.) the reason for a contract provision in the first place; and b.) a huge red flag. Generally speaking, you don't bet on the idea that habitual drug offenders will clean up their acts when they come into millions of dollars and loads of free time.
Rogers barely played again after his suspension and was released by the team in September of 2006. Several NFL teams (and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League) reportedly took a pass, which left Rogers with even more free time. Bad idea. He became a frequent user of marijuana and Vicodin, and his life spiraled further downhill. After multiple probation violations, the last straw came in January of 2010, when he violated a sobriety court order by passing out after drinking too much in a Mexican restaurant. That order came from a drunk driving charge last September. You get the idea.
It's yet another chapter in a very sad story. Rogers has nobody to blame but himself, but one wonders how he's going to deal with the loss of money you'd probably bet he doesn't have anymore. Perhaps every time Millen goes on television from now on, masquerading as a savvy personnel guy, he should be fined $10,000, and the money put into a matching fund to repay the franchise. Because if there's one thing for sure, it's that Millen's just as much at fault for ignoring what was right in front of his face, and bringing bust after bust onto the team.
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