Darryl Rogers, former Detroit Lions and Michigan State Football coach, dies at 83


Darryl Rogers, former head coach of the Detroit Lions and Michigan State Spartans football teams, died on Wednesday at the age of 83.

Former Detroit Lions and Michigan State Spartans football coach Darryl Rogers died in his sleep on Wednesday, according to his family. He was 83.

Known as an innovator who loved to throw the football, Rogers helped turn the Spartans into a competitive program in the 1970s, finished tied the Big Ten title in 1978 with Michigan—whom he called “arrogant asses“—and finishing 12th in the AP Poll.

After Rogers finished his tenure in East Lansing with a 24-18-2 record, although not before he reportedly convinced Kirk Gibson to give baseball a shot. Rogers left for Arizona State, where he led the Sun Devils to the 1983 Fiesta Bowl title.

He left Arizona State to take his one and only NFL job in Detroit in 1985, despite knowing nothing about the team when he was hired. The Lions went 7-9 in his first year, never improved, and Rogers was done after the 1988 season, having coached the Lions to an 18-40 record. He recognized that times were tough for the team, once quipping to reporters, “What does a coach have to do to get fired around here?”

Detroit Lions owner Marth Ford released a statement on Wednesday reading, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Darryl. On behalf of me, my family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, Marsha, and the Rogers family.”

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Rogers’ cause of death has not yet been reported. A statement from the family is expected on Thursday, per the Detroit Free Press and funeral arrangements are to be determined.