DETROIT — Former Michigan State star and Detroit Lions receiver Charles Rogers has died at the age of 38.
A woman who identified herself as Cathy Rogers, his mother, confirmed the death Monday in a phone call from The Associated Press. Other details were not immediately known. Marshall Thomas, Rogers' former basketball coach at Saginaw High School in Michigan, told MLive.com that Rogers died Monday of liver failure and also had cancer.
At Michigan State, Rogers was an All-American wide receiver who had 135 receptions for 2,821 yards in two seasons. He was college football's top receiver in 2002 and the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. He scored twice in his NFL debut, but suffered a broken collarbone that ended his rookie season and suffered the same injury a year later. Rogers failed a drug test in 2005 and was cut entering the next season. He had 36 career receptions for 440 yards receiving and four touchdowns in 15 NFL games.
"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."
Rogers is Michigan State's all-time leader in touchdown catches with 27 and ranks third in school history in receiving yards and eighth in catches, all in just two seasons. He had a school-record 12 career 100-yard receiving games and is the only Spartans receiver with multiple 200-yard receiving games (school-record 270 vs. Fresno State in 2001 and 206 vs. Wisconsin in 2001).
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called Rogers "an incredible talent."
"I was here as an assistant coach during Charles' first year on campus in 2000, and as a defence, we had to go against him in practice every day," Dantonio said in a statement.
Current University of Oregon assistant coach Bobby Williams coached Rogers at Michigan State and with the Lions.
"I have nothing but good memories of Charles," Williams told The AP in a telephone interview. "When he looked at you and smiled, you knew he was in a good place."
Rogers was arrested in 2008 in suburban Detroit and charged with assault and battery involving his fiancée. He pleaded no contest to trespassing and entered in a treatment house as part of his probation.
Michigan State strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie said he was heartbroken.
"May God hold Charles in the palms of His hands and give him eternal peace," Mannie said. "And may He give the family comfort and solace."
Lage contributed from Costa Mesa, California.