Hardly ever does a day go by without another story of a retired football player who’s living with health problems tied to his playing days. Today the story is that of George Rogers, the former Saints and Redskins running back who was the first overall draft pick and rookie of the year in 1981.
Rogers, now 50 years old, says he has daily pain in his knee, shoulder, shins, toes and thumb, all of which he traces to football injuries.
“Some days I hate to wake up,” Rogers says, “because I know I can’t stand on my feet. I have trouble walking some days. . . . Those are the battle scars you take with you when you leave that league. When they say ‘NFL,’ they mean it: ‘Not For Long.’”
Rogers also says he played through concussions, an issue that’s particularly sensitive for the NFL right now after Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked to testify before Congress on the matter. Rogers believes concussions on the playing field affect memory later in life.
“The older you get, the more you can’t remember anyway,” Rogers says. “I think (the concussions) affect your memory. Hey, you’re a running back. You’re probably taking more hits than anybody on the field, as far as taking licks, getting hit.”
Rogers led the league in rushing as a rookie with the Saints in 1981, and he led the league in touchdown with the Redskins in 1986. He retired at the age of 29 after the 1987 season, citing nagging injuries.