Redskins' Rogers is in a financial corner

By Rick Maese
Sunday, December 12, 2010; D01

Reprinted from yesterday's editions

In Courtroom 501 of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson took his seat. The first of five cases on his docket was William R. Teel, Jr. v. Carlos C. Rogers.

As an attorney for Teel addressed the court, there was no mention of Rogers's employer, the Washington Redskins, and certainly no talk of football. In the brief comments, there were also no details of the case or the financial storm that has swirled around Rogers in recent years.

No one was present on Rogers's behalf. He was at Redskins Park, as his team held its regularly scheduled practice the morning of Dec. 3.

Anderson confirmed that since September, the court had collected four checks ranging in value from $14,663 to $29,362 - money garnished from Rogers's Redskins paychecks - and that the judgment against Rogers had been satisfied. The hearing lasted less than two minutes, effectively and unceremoniously bringing to a close the eight-month case, the details of which provide just a hint of what Rogers has been grappling with away from the football field the past two seasons.

Rogers has earned more than $14 million playing football, but the financial struggles have cost him his home in Leesburg and attached his name to a handful of court cases in Virginia and Georgia. He says he still has money and that any financial problems are in the past.

"All that's behind," Rogers said in an interview Wednesday at Redskins Park. "Will [Teel's] behind. It's over with. The house is over with. Everything is fine."

His troubles come at a time, though, when players across the NFL are being encouraged to be especially conservative with their money. Because the labor uncertainty between team owners and players has put the 2011 season in jeopardy, the union has urged its members to save and warned them against needless spending.

"Coming into money could be a challenge for anyone," said Dana Hammonds, the NFL Players Association's director of player services and development, "and how you deal with friends, family, expectations could be difficult. That's difficult for anyone. That's why we really stress education."

The NFL and the union take steps each year discussing fiscal responsibility with players - from cash flow and investments to the basic understanding that most players will receive only 17 paychecks in a 52-week period - at the annual rookie symposium, in offseason classes, and in educational videos.

Hammond said the current labor uncertainty, which could see owners locking out players on March 3, 2011, serves as a "fire drill" for players who might have to prepare for a time when they don't receive regular football checks and must prepare for a second career.

Economic predicaments

Rogers said he met Teel through a mutual friend. Teel is a successful Washington businessman whose firms specialize in information technology and management consulting, and have made millions of dollars from lucrative government contracts. He's also an ardent Redskins fan who'd grown friendly in recent years with some Redskins players.

Teel declined to comment on the case or his relationship with Rogers. According to court records, Teel alleges that Rogers approached Teel in July 2009, requesting a loan. Rogers said he faced imminent foreclosure of his home in Leesburg, and Teel agreed to loan the Redskins cornerback $125,000.

"I didn't want to talk to my financial people," Rogers said. "I knew him and he helped me out at a time."

Rogers would not provide details of his predicament or explain why he was unable to pay for his home, saying that bad investments and bad investment advice put him in a bind. He said he relied on others for his financial planning, but he declined to make them available.

"It really was something that went on with my financial people and kind of got me in a bad situation that I really didn't know about," he said.

"At first, I really wasn't worried about it. It was more disappointment in my financial people. After hearing stuff, trusting guys, being with guys for five years . . . it was more the disbelief," he added. "The house, Will [Teel] - that wasn't a problem."

Rogers bought the home in 2005 for $760,900, according to property records. He's one of several current and former Redskins players who purchased homes in the neighborhood, including Jason Campbell, Santana Moss and Rocky McIntosh. The home's most recent assessed value is $540,300, but regardless of its worth, Rogers was unable to pay the mortgage, according to court documents.

During the 2009 season, Rogers paid back $25,000 to Teel, but according to court records, in the months that followed Rogers didn't reply to Teel's requests for the remaining $100,000.

Around the same time, Rogers was hit with three lawsuits in Georgia, where he makes his offseason home. DCFS Trust sued him for failing to pay for a Mercedes Benz, and he also faced lawsuits from Elegante Leasing, Ltd. and Capital Alliance Financial LLC, according to Georgia court records. The Elegante case is ongoing, and the court issued a certificate of default four weeks ago, but the other two cases have been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in recent months, which means the lawsuit could be re-filed at a later date.

Stifled by labor situation

In most years, Rogers, 29, would have been close to securing an NFL payday following the 2009 season. He was originally selected by the Redskins in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft. He signed a contract at the time that paid him nearly $14 million in bonuses and salaryover the next five seasons.

"I was the ninth pick and got some money. . . . I continue to have a lot of money. So I had money, still have a lot of money," he said.

That contract expired at the end of the 2009 season, and he should have been an unrestricted free agent, which would have allowed him to negotiate with other teams and likely pocket a seven-figure bonus that might alleviate some of his financial woes.

Because of unsettled labor issues and the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, Rogers was classified as a restricted free agent, giving him virtually no leverage in negotiations. Washington tendered a one-year offer.

"They know they got me for cheap. . . . They're going to use what they got to keep me here cheap," Rogers said in March. "If you want me there, you could show me. Tendering me is not showing me."

In July, Rogers accepted the Redskins' one-year contract worth $1.542 million, and no signing bonus.

Teel filed his suit in U.S. District Court on March 30, alleging breach of contract and seeking repayment of the $100,000 loan.

On May 3, according to property records, U.S. Bank foreclosed on Rogers's Leesburg home, and Rogers was evicted.

Friends and neighbors say he temporarily stayed in the nearby home of Campbell, a college teammate and close friend who had been traded to the Oakland Raiders in April, and then took up residence in a Loudoun County rental property later in the spring.

"I wanted to see what happens here before I bought another place," said Rogers, who will likely be an unrestricted free agent following the season. "If I do [stay here], I'll pretty much buy me another place here."

Though the uncertainty surrounding his Leesburg home stretches back to at least the spring of 2009, Rogers said the matter never distracted him from football.

"It was offseason stuff," he said. "Nothing really distracting. I had people handling it right then and there. They got right there and it was basically taken care of."

Rogers, a native of Augusta, Ga., owns two other properties, according to property records, a home in Evans, Ga., which is occupied by his parents, and an apartment in Atlanta, where Rogers spends parts of his offseasons.

On July 2, Anderson ruled in favor of Teel and awarded him the full $100,000. The court sought garnishment of Rogers's wages in August and the Redskins payroll department began to comply beginning in September. The full amount totaled $102,606.77, which covers interest and associated fees.

For Rogers, the resolution of the case brought a sense of closure.

"That situation - the house and everything else - is handled now," he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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