By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
One Moment Changes Everything
By Tony McClean
Updated: November 30, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Ct. – On the heels of the untimely death of Washington Redskin defensive back Sean Taylor, BASN’s final featured “Book Of The Month” for 2007 focuses on another untimely death of a football player whose impact is still being felt some 20 years since his demise.
Born into poverty but blessed with stunning good looks, charisma, and unmatched athletic prowess, the Rogers siblings — Don, Reggie, and Jackie — illuminated Sacramento’s nightly skies throughout the 1980s.
Their highlight-reel performances on area football fields and basketball courts garnered All-City, and later All-West Coast, All-Pac-10, and All-America honors. The trio had the world at their feet.
Then, one moment — on June 27, 1986 — changed our country and our way of life forever. Just days after Len Bias’ fatal overdose, a single dose of cocaine killed Don Rogers, tearing his family apart at the seams and catalyzing an American public who demanded that the government attack the crack-cocaine epidemic.
In his new book, “One Moment Changes Everything: The All-America Tragedy Of Don Rogers”, author Sean Harvey examines a not-too-distant era when mainstream America and its star athletes, from coast to coast, were losing their careers, and their lives, to cocaine.
“Because his death happened so soon after Len Bias, Don’s life and story is often forgotten by the national press”, said Harvey, a native of Sacramento. “However, his death spawned several changes in drug policies within the country.”
Yet, as Don’ death sent seismic shocks throughout the nation, his family struggled to pick up the pieces after such epicentral devastation; and without Don’s guidance, the once indestructible Rogers family eroded into despair.
After her brother died, Jackie Rogers — once the most promising female basketball player in California — turned her back on the hardwood forever. Then Reggie Rogers, without Don by his side, embarked upon a path of ill-fated decisions that would lead him to a hell ruled by his own personal demons.
In “One Moment”, Harvey speaks of a incredible world of involving drug dealers, All-America athletes, crooked agents, the Mafia, racism, prison, a multimillion-dollar war, the changing face of a nation, and the love that kept one family together.
Don Rogers was a three-sport phenomenon who energized a forgotten corner of the world (North Sacramento). He could run, jump and tackle better than anyone in California. A role model to children, he became both an honor student and a consensus All-American football player for UCLA, where he dominated two Rose Bowls and was a favorite of fans and sportswriters alike.
Rogers went on to become a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns and was voted the NFL’s Rookie of The Year in 1984. Then it fell apart. Just one week after the overdose death of Bias, and only one day before his marriage to his college sweetheart, while in the upstairs bedroom of his mother’s home Rogers made the incomprehensible decision to use cocaine, and died just hours later.
Harvey’s book is an All-American story is about a good man whose life transcended sports, and whose death continues to spur debates about burden, love, addiction, responsibility, and what constitutes happiness in the material world.
“One Moment” also examines how the impact of Don’s sudden death still impacts the entire Rogers family and the community of Sacramento. “His loss was left a huge impact on this area and in many ways still somewhat defines it”, Harvey added.
Even though it’s been over two decades since Rogers’ death, the message that “One Moment” leaves the reader still reverberates today. This is a very eye-opening and thought-provoking book that goes beyond the sports headlines and should be read by those inside and outside the athletic world.