The “Worst Non-Active Player” in Lions History? SI Makes Their Selection

Charles Rogers talks to the press

Sports Illustrated has put out a piece on the “Worst non-active player by franchise” for each and every franchise, the Lions included.

The player that the author the piece, Doug Farrar, picked was a memorable player for all the wrong reasons – that being wide out Charles Rogers.

Charles Rogers
WR, Detroit Lions

You knew Detroit’s entry into this competition would be a member of a Matt Millen draft class, and few did less with more than Rogers, who Millen took with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft. And what did the Lions get for the man they took with Andre Johnson still on the board? (Note: The Texans selected Johnson with the No. 3 pick). They got a star from Michigan State who was completely unprepared for the realities of the NFL. Rogers did catch 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season before a broken clavicle ended his 2003 campaign, and then suffered the same injury early in the ’04 season. Rogers was so distraught over the recurrence that he asked to rehab at home. Millen allowed this, which he later admitted was a mistake.

Rogers had a history of failed drug tests while in college, and this caught up to him in 2005, when he was suspended four games for multiple violations of the NFL’s drug policy. This put Rogers in default of the contract he signed, and the Lions asked Rogers to pay back $10 million of the $14.2 in bonuses he received. In 2008 (the same day owner William Clay Ford finally fired Millen), an arbitrator ruled that Rogers had to repay the team about $8.5 million, and he was in no condition to do so, after he couldn’t find work with another NFL team. He found himself in repeated trouble with the law, and has struggled with drugs and alcohol. A sad story all around. Rogers finished his NFL career with 36 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns.

Happy 47th Birthday to Lions Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders

He was one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL. Hard to believe that he walked away from the game some 17 years ago, but for Barry Sanders, he is still remembered as one of the most hard to tackle backs in the history of the game.

Sanders played his entire 10-year career with the Lions, and never rushed for less than 1115 yards in a season (that happened in 1993).

In his 10 seasons he ran for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns, putting up five yards a rush on the ground.

Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and for good reason, if he would have stuck around he could have broken a number of records, including challenging Jim Brown at the time for the all-time rushing mark.

Today we give props to Barry – showing off some of his best stuff in the highlight film below:

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Calvin Johnson Not Worried About 30th Birthday – “Feeling Good Right Now”

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers

Lions’ star receiver Calvin Johnson doesn’t think he is old, overpaid or in decline, Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports.

“I’m just playing my game,” he said. “Doing what I set out to do.”

The assertion the eight-year veteran makes himself is that two months from his 30th birthday he still has big seasons left.

“No doubt,” he said. “What did I miss, four, almost five games last year? Still came up with just over 1,000 (yards). I still have some (good years) left.”

And about that 30th birthday? Johnson isn’t concerned about any increased difficulty in gearing up for the season at such an advanced age.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s a mind-set more than anything. If you have injuries, it’s tough. But I’m feeling good right now.”

Ngata Excited About Being a Part of the Lions Defense

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said recently he has “never been a part of a defense like this,” Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports.

“It’s exciting, man,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of a defense like this,” Ngata said. “You have so many athletes: J.J., Ziggy, Caraun, Darryl Tapp. You just have so many playmakers all over the front on the D-line. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Even though Ngata has to get used to a new team and a new defense, he’s viewing the change as a challenge.

“It all depends what you’ve been doing your whole career,” he said. “I’ve been down in Baltimore a long time and changing to this type of defense it’s just exciting. I’m excited to do it and I’m excited to be here. Just can’t wait to put the pads on to see how it really feels.”

HOF TE Charlie Sanders Staying Positive in Fight Against Cancer

Pro Football Hall of Fame Announcement

Hall-of-Fame tight end Charlie Sanders has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy in his battle with cancer, but family members say the long-time Detroit Lion is staying upbeat in his fight, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.

“Just as on the field, Charlie Sanders is a fighter and he is going to fight to the end like any game, like any journey,” Sanders’ daughter, Charese Sailor, said on behalf of the family. “We are rallying around him and supporting him in that fight, and until God says differently, we’re going to push on.”

Doctors diagnosed Sanders with cancer last November after they found a malignant tumor behind his right knee while he was being prepped for knee replacement surgery.

Sanders, who’s remained mostly hospitalized and out of the public eye in recent months, said in February that “the knee operation saved my life.”

One of the most prolific pass-catchers of his era, Sanders played 10 seasons for the Lions (1968-77) and finished his career with 336 catches for 4,817 yards.

A seven-time Pro Bowler, he suffered a serious knee injury in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in 1976 that forced him to retire a little more than a year later.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, and Lions players and other area luminaries showed up in droves to support his foundation’s annual charity golf outing last month.

Former Pistons star and ex-Detroit mayor Dave Bing, one of Sanders’ close friends, said at that time that Sanders was in good spirits.

“One thing that I really do want people to know is that he feels all the prayers and all the love and he knows that there are so many people really giving back to him what he gave,” Sailor said. “So in this critical time we are just rallying with him and it’s so difficult to get to everyone, but he would like everyone to know that he really feels and appreciates their prayer.”

Golden Tate Says Lions Ready to Become ‘Elite’ in 2015

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

It’s time for the Lions to take the next step, according to the team’s best player on offense last year, Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports.

“I think it’s time for us to consistently, year in and year out, win ballgames,” receiver Golden Tate said in a phone interview. “I think we have the personnel. I think we have the coach, the coaching staff. I think we have a heck of a fan base.

“It’s time. We’re trying to shake ‘the same old Lions.’ We’re trying to become — I thought we were good — I think we’re trying to become elite now. I think we’re trying to compete with the Packers and give them a run for their money and take over our division year in and year out.”

Quarterback Matthew Stafford said he wants to meet with some teammates in July for pre-training camp workouts in Atlanta. Tate didn’t hesitate when he was asked whether he would participate.

“Oh, 100%, 100%,” he said. “We need every moving part to be there if they can. We understand that people have things already on their schedule. But I know if my schedule’s free, I’m going to try my best to make it, because this is the most important thing in my life — that’s playing football and playing for the city of Detroit and trying to win ballgames.”

Joique Bell Says He Will Run for Over 1200 Yards in 2015

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

Joique Bell is so confident about this season, in fact, that he’s predicting he’ll become the second Detroit Lions running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards since 2004 — and then some.

“I’m going to rush for over 1,200 yards,” Bell told Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “That’s the minimum. If I do less than that, I’ll be surprised. I’ll be disappointed.

“Anything more than that, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”

“My first year here I rushed for a few hundred (yards),” he said. “Second year, close to (700). Then last year, almost 900. So this next year, I’m just going to jump the gun and say 1,200. That’s the minimum.”

No Lions tailback has rushed for that many yards since Barry Sanders racked up 1,491 in his final season in 1998. In fact, the club’s tailbacks have struggled to reach even 1,000 in the post-Sanders era.

Detroit was the only team in the league without any 1,000-yard rushers from 2005-12.

Lions Add Veteran TE David Ausberry

Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins

The Lions made a minor move to bolster the team’s tight end depth heading into mandatory minicamp next week, signing David Ausberry, Justin Rogers of Mlive reports.

A seventh-round draft pick out of USC in 2011, Ausberry spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder appeared in 34 games, catching 11 passes for 120 yards. He missed all of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury.

The former wide receiver ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash coming out of college, fast for his position. He was also was a significant contributor on special teams for Oakland.

To clear room on the roster, the Lions released rookie safety Nathan Lindsey, an Inkster native.