WASHINGTON — DC Defenders wide receiver Eli Rogers suited up for Saturday’s matchup with the New York Guardians after an emotional 10 days.
The 27-year-old’s mother, Tranae Jackson, died on Feb. 5 at the age of 50, and her funeral was scheduled the same day as the Defenders’ second game.
In what he described on Twitter as “one of the toughest decisions” of his life, Rogers played Saturday, skipping the funeral at Faith Community Baptist Church in Miami.
“After a long talk with God and her, I came to this conclusion,” Rogers wrote in a series of tweets. “I know most people may think I am crazy. Selfish even. I respect your opinion. But in life, sometimes it is not about doing what you feel is right, it is about doing what you know is right. It’s not about physically knowing someone. It is about building a relationship with a person from the inside out.”
Rogers did not disclose the cause of his mother’s death.
Rogers played three seasons in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2016 to 2018. His first season was his most productive. He caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns but was released by the team in August.
Rogers was drafted in the XFL’s supplemental draft by the Defenders on Nov. 22, and he hauled in all six of his targets for 73 yards in the team’s win against the Seattle Dragons last week.