Former NFL Player Reggie Rogers Died from Substance Abuse

By Shawn Dwyer 12/20/13

The October death of the journeyman defensive tackle was caused by cocaine and alcohol intoxication, medical examiner says.

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Reggie Rogers, a once highly-touted standout who struggled with lifelong dependency on drugs and alcohol, died on October 24, 2013 in Seattle, WA. But just this week, the King County Medical Examiner’s office determined that the cause of death was due to a deadly combination of cocaine and alcohol in his system.

The Seattle native was a standout two-sport athlete at the University of Washington, where he was an All-American defensive lineman from 1984-86. He also shined for three seasons on the men’s basketball team. In 1987, he was picked by the Detroit Lions seventh overall in the draft, but only played six games in his rookie season before stepping away to allegedly undergo treatment for chemical and alcohol dependency. The following year, Rogers struck another vehicle while driving under the influence and killed three teenagers. He was subsequently waved by the Lions and later sentenced to 16 months in prison after a conviction for vehicular homicide.

Rogers attempted a comeback with the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but ultimately left football for good in 1992. He was again involved in a drunk driving incident when he was charged with a hit-and-run in Washington in 2008. It was his fifth DUI in the state, dating back to his college days.

Rogers has long been considered to be one of the NFL’s biggest busts in the sport's history. And apparently, substance abuse ran in the family. His brother, Don Rogers, a safety with the Cleveland Browns, died in June 1986 from cocaine poisoning.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.