December 8, 1958 |
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||228 lb (103 kg)|
|High school:||Duluth (GA)|
|NFL Draft:||1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
George Washington Rogers (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.
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, and second-team honors from United Press International. 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.
Rogers left the Gamecocks football program as its most successful running back, and many of his records remain after all these years. His 5,204 yards is still 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. He also gained more than 100 yards in each of his final 22 college games.
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.
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. 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, 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
In 1992, Rogers was named to the All-Century Team at University of South Carolina. He holds memberships in the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. In 1997, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Also, 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.
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