Former UW football star Reggie Rogers was found dead in his home in Seattle on Thursday. Reports indicate his cause of death might be related to a drug overdose.
Rogers was an All-American for the University of Washington, playing both football and basketball in the mid-1980s. He was was drafted 7th overall for the Detroit Lions in 1987, but it was a short stint before a DUI conviction in 1988.
Over the years, he was arrested for six DUIs and one alleged incident of domestic violence that occurred just two weeks ago.
Rogers returned to the NFL in 1991 with the Buffalo Bills and then the Buccaneers in 1992 before his football career ended.
One person who was close to the troubled athlete says his frequent visits to court might not have been entirely his fault.
Seattle Attorney Kevin Trombold represented Rogers during two of his DUI cases. He says he believes Rogers may have suffered from CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
“Reggie showed a bunch of the similar symptoms, such as memory loss, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, that is consistent with other players who have suffered from the same kind of problems,” says Trombold.
Researchers at Boston University describe CTE as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma.”
Rogers had never been diagnosed with a brain injury, and in fact, had never even been tested for one. Trombold says he had hoped to change that.
“What we were asking the courts to do was to let us explore this more,” says Trombold. “We had doctors lined up ready to work with Reggie to explore ways to rehabilitate him. Certainly, in jail, he didn’t get any rehabilitation at all.”
Trombold says he knew when Rogers was sentenced that he would likely commit the same kind of offenses once he was released.
Who came up with the defense involving CTE? Trombold says it wasn’t Rogers.
“We raised it to Reggie, because as defense attorneys you aren’t just trying to walk someone out of the courthouse. You’re also trying to be a good counselor to the client and explore what will help them live a better life,” says Trombold.
But Rogers’ life is now over. He was just 49 years old.