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December 9, 2010A back injury might've ended Gary Rogers' football career at Washington State University but it didn't end his professional football aspirations.
Two years after he played his final game at WSU, Rogers is pulling on the shoulder pads again with a professional indoor football team in Wenatchee, Wash., in an attempt to re-start his career.
"I'm trying to use the Wenatchee Venom as a way to get back on the field and get back into football and let everyone know that I'm willing and ready to play, said Rogers, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound quarterback.
Rogers, 24, will sign a one-year contract with the Wenatchee Valley Venom Thursday and begin preparing for the Indoor Football League season that begins in late February.
He joins two other former Cougars - running back/defensive back Ian Bell and linebacker Michael Graise - on a Wenatchee roster that also includes former Idaho Vandals star running back DeMaundray Woolridge and ex Southern Cal receiver R. Jay Soward.
Rogers became WSU's starting quarterback his senior year after spending four years waiting for his chance behind Alex Brink. But four games into his senior year, he fractured his spine in a game against Portland State and left Martin Stadium in an ambulance.
Although his WSU career was over, the injury didn't require surgery and he was told he'd recover fully and be able to play football again.
His first attempt at getting back into the game didn't stick as he participated in the Buffalo Bills rookie mini-camp then later tried unsuccessfully to catch on with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and later the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.
His former WSU teammates encouraged him to consider the Venom of the IFL, a second-tier indoor professional football league, that will play teams from Green Bay to Fairbanks.
"I know they pass a bunch," Rogers said. "I know the field's smaller. I know there are obviously less players and there are different rules. Really, I'm just looking to use this as a stepping stone to get my name back out there."
Rogers, who lives in Mukilteo and played his high school football at Kamiak, sees this as a chance to give NFL and CFL teams fresh film. He waited long enough for a chance at WSU that didn't end the way he had hoped.
Now, he's hoping to make the most of a new chance and see where it leads. He calls his pursuit "unfinished business."
He said the NFL has been a goal of his since he was 5.
"It's definitely the ultimate goal of getting to the top of your sport," he said.