George Rogers (American football)

Last updated

George Rogers
George Rogers statue (Columbia, SC).jpg
No. 38
Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: (1958-12-08) December 8, 1958 (age 62)
Duluth, Georgia
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:228 lb (103 kg)
Career information
High school: Duluth (GA)
College: South Carolina
NFL Draft: 1981  / Round: 1 / Pick:  1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:7,176
Yards per carry:4.2
Rushing touchdowns:54
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

George Washington Rogers Jr. (born December 8, 1958) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons during the 1980s. Rogers played college football for the University of South Carolina, earned All-America honors, and won the 1980 Heisman Trophy. He was the first overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, and he played professionally for the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins of the NFL. As a professional, Rogers rushed for over 7,000 yards.

Contents

College career

George Rogers statue in Columbia, South Carolina George Rogers statue (Columbia, SC).jpg
George Rogers statue in Columbia, South Carolina

Rogers was highly recruited out of high school, and decided to attend the University of South Carolina when coach Jim Carlen told him that he could play in his freshman year. Due to his large size, he seemed destined to play fullback rather than tailback. However, the Gamecocks had two running backs who graduated at the same time, so he began his college career as the starting tailback midway through his freshman season.

Rogers rushed for 1,006 yards (playing in only eight games) during his sophomore year, despite splitting time with fellow sophomore Johnnie Wright. In Rogers' junior campaign, he had 1,681 rushing yards. After that season, he was given first-team All-America honors by the Associated Press and Newspaper Enterprise Association, [1] [2] and second-team honors from United Press International. [3] He finished seventh in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

In 1980, the stage was set when the Gamecocks returned plenty of talent, which was headlined by senior and Heisman candidate Rogers. South Carolina finished the season with an 8–3 record. Rogers' 1,781 rushing yards was the best in the nation and earned him a spot as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

The Downtown Athletic Club in New York City named Rogers as the winner of the 1980 Heisman Trophy. Rogers beat out an impressive group of players, including Pittsburgh defensive lineman Hugh Green and Georgia running back Herschel Walker. Rogers also earned spots on eight All-America teams, all first-team honors.

Rogers had his number 38 retired during halftime ceremonies at South Carolina's final 1980 home game. He was the first University of South Carolina player to have his jersey retired while still active at the school. [4]

Rogers left the Gamecocks football program as its most successful running back, and many of his records are still intact. His 5,204 yards is the highest career total by any Gamecock running back, and his 31 rushing touchdowns is tied with Harold Green for second. He is second on the all-time points scored list, with 202. Rogers rushed for over 100 yards in 27 games, including his final 22 college games. [5]

College statistics

Legend
Led Independents
Independent record
Led the NCAA
NCAA Record
BoldCareer high
College receiving statistics* [6]
SeasonSchoolGamesAttYdsAvgTDRecYdsAvgTD
TeamRushingReceiving
1977 South Carolina 121436234.431418513.21
1978 South Carolina 111761,0065.768415.10
1979 South Carolina 123111,6815.481414010.01
1980 South Carolina 112971,7816.0147233.30
Career South Carolina 469275,0915.531433899.02

* Includes bowl games.

Professional career

In the 1981 NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints selected Rogers with the first pick overall (one pick before the New York Giants selected Lawrence Taylor). He was the first of five Heisman Trophy winners selected by the Saints (Danny Wuerffel in 1997, Ricky Williams in 1999, Reggie Bush in 2006 and Mark Ingram Jr. in 2011 were the other four).

In his first season, Rogers led the league in rushing with 1,674 yards, which set a record for rookies and is still the single season record for the Saints. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl and was selected as the NFL Rookie of the Year. [7]

Rogers spent his first four seasons in New Orleans. He played alongside quarterback Archie Manning in 1981 and eventually running back Earl Campbell, who was brought in during the 1984 season. [8]

On April 26, 1985 Rogers was traded to the Washington Redskins together with the Saints' fifth-, tenth- and 11th-round selections in the 1985 NFL Draft in return for the Redskins first-round pick. [9]

Rogers played three more seasons, all for the Washington Redskins. When he arrived in Washington, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was ending his professional career, while coach Joe Gibbs was trying to rebuild the team after the retirement of Riggins and quarterback Joe Theismann. [10] Rogers had some of his biggest professional success in Washington, including a Super Bowl title in 1987, defeating the Denver Broncos, 42–10, in Super Bowl XXII. Rogers retired due to nagging injuries after the 1987 season, [11] ending his professional career with the Super Bowl victory. When he left the NFL, Rogers had rushed for 7,176 yards with 54 touchdowns in seven seasons. Rogers ranks second all-time to Eric Dickerson on the single season rookie rushing yards record with 1,674 yards.

NFL career statistics

YearTeamGamesRushingReceiving
GPGSAttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsAvgLngTD
1981 NO 16163781,6744.47913161267.9250
1982 NO 651225354.43834215.2100
1983 NO 13122561,1444.576512695.8220
1984 NO 16162399143.828212766.3150
1985 WAS 1552311,0934.73574297.3230
1986 WAS 15153031,2034.042183248.0180
1987 WAS 1191636133.82964235.880
Career [12] 92781,6927,1764.27954553686.7250

Drug arrests

Following his rookie season with the Saints, Rogers testified to a federal grand jury during an investigation into trafficking by another Saints player, that he along with other teammates had purchased and used cocaine during his rookie season with the Saints in 1981. He claimed to have spent more than $10,000 on cocaine during the season. [13] He checked himself into a drug treatment center for cocaine addiction in 1982. Rogers claimed after a clean urine test in July 1982 while still in rehab, that he had stopped using the drug.[ citation needed ] In April 1990, George Rogers was arrested along with two other men in Columbia, South Carolina. All three were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of marijuana. [14] All were released after posting $5,000 bonds. Since then, he appears to have overcome those problems and works at his alma mater in public relations and fund-raising and speaks out against the drug culture.[ citation needed ]

Other honors

In 1992, Rogers was named to the All-Century Team at University of South Carolina. He is a member of the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, South Carolina Football Hall of Fame, [4] the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, [15] and the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. [16]

The road that runs along the north end of Williams-Brice Stadium was renamed in his honor and is now known as George Rogers Boulevard. A statue of Rogers was erected on the boulevard in 2015. [17] [18]

On December 14, 2017, Rogers had another road named after him (George Rogers Avenue) in his hometown of Duluth, Georgia. [19]

See also

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References

  1. "Southern Cal star White repeats as All-America". The Pantagraph. December 5, 1979. p. B4.
  2. "NEA's 1979 All-America football team". The Daily News (Huntingdon, PA). November 27, 1979. p. 4.
  3. "UPI All-America: Trojans Grab 3 Berths". The Daily News (Huntingdon). December 4, 1979. p. 5.
  4. 1 2 "George Rogers". South Carolina Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  5. Schechter, Lee (May 23, 2013). "South Carolina Football: Reliving George Rogers' 1980 Heisman Trophy March". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  6. "George Rogers college statistics". College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  7. Lowitt, Bruce (January 7, 1982). "Saints' Rogers Named Top Rookie on Offense". Schenectady Gazette. Associated Press. p. 27. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  8. "Campbell gives Saints deluxe backfield". The Free Lance-Star. Associated Press. October 10, 1984. p. 6. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  9. Brennan, Christine (April 25, 1985). "Redskins Obtain Rogers for No. 1 Pick". Washington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  10. "'Skins hope hot streak continues". Herald-Journal. Associated Press. November 25, 1986. p. 50. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  11. Florio, Mike (November 5, 2009). "George Rogers feels the pain of a football career". Profootballtalk.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  12. "George Rogers". football-reference.com. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  13. "George Rogers bought cocaine -- newspaper reports". United Press International . New Orleans. June 24, 1982. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  14. "Former Heisman winner Rogers surprise catch in drug raid". United Press International . Columbia, South Carolina. April 10, 1990. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  15. "George Washington Rogers, Jr". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  16. "George Rogers". Saints Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  17. Cloninger, David (June 25, 2015). "Four bronze plaques will grace the George Rogers statue". The State. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  18. Cloninger, David (August 25, 2015). "Statue will be fitting tribute for George Rogers". The State. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  19. Yeomans, Curt (December 14, 2017). "Duluth celebrates hometown Heisman winner George Rogers at new road opening". Gwinnett Daily Post. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.