By Chris Rotolo |
HOLMDEL – The president of Saint John Vianney High School called the public perception of how his office handled the dismissal of a former assistant football coach “ridiculous.”
Last week, reports first arose from the Asbury Park Press about former Lancers Offensive Coordinator Charlie Rogers and a profanity-laced voicemail the ex-NFL Pro Bowler left Aug. 25 for Chris Schuster, the parent of a youth football player whose son left the Matawan American Youth Football League (AYF) team Rogers headed.
Though the Lancers’ varsity football program has no affiliation with Matawan AYF,
Saint John Vianney released a statement Sept. 7 announcing Rogers’ firing the previous day, and school president Joseph F. Deroba said the timeline of events is misleading.
“The assumption is we knew about this for three weeks before making a decision. It’s ridiculous. Anyone who knows us knows that would never happen,” Deroba said in a Sept. 11 interview with The Two River Times.
Deroba said he and Saint John Vianney officials first heard about the voicemail when the story broke Sept. 6, and proceeded to act swiftly but justly.
“Once we found out what happened we took the time to have him come in and say his piece. There’s a thing called due process that we had to consider. Mr. Rogers deserved to be heard and 24 hours after hearing him out we decided to part ways,” Deroba said. “Mr. Rogers was very professional about it. He was apologetic and classy about the whole thing.”
Deroba said Rogers’ acceptance of the consequences aligned with the upstanding character the former Matawan High School football star displayed while on campus.
“I was at numerous practices all summer long and never once did I hear a foul word from any of our coaches, including Mr. Rogers. The kids on the team, their parents, for the most part they seemed to like him. He seemed to care for them. And I never heard that language all summer long. I’m not saying everyone is an angel.”
According to reports, on the 44-second voicemail left by Rogers, the former Lancers’ coach can be heard referring to Schuster’s son, who had recently left Matawan AYF to play for St. Bart’s, an East Brunswick-based football program.
“Hey Chris (Schuster), this is coach Charlie, dog. I’m telling you right now, today, in the sum- mertime, before we’ve even started a game yet, right, we are going to blitz every (expletive) play until your guy comes out the game. So don’t bring him to the game.”
“You know I’m pissed off about this (expletive) right here. And I’m telling you, I swear to God, we are going to blitz, we don’t care if we give up a badge or not, we’re blitzing everybody. We are blitz- ing every single (expletive) play. And (inaudible) that it’s a bad (expletive) move, and I don’t like it, and it’s a stupid move and we are going to blitz every single (expletive) play. Hang that (expletive) up. Every play!”
Schuster was the acting president of Matawan AYF, but stepped down from his post when the organization failed to take immediate action against Rogers. However, at a Sept. 6 executive meeting of Jersey Shore AYF, Rogers was suspended indefinitely from holding any position within New Jersey AYF.
Deroba said at a Catholic school like Saint John Vianney, actions like this have a consequence, “but this doesn’t make Mr. Rogers a bad person.”
“He messed up, we all do. He made mistakes like we all do. But there are consequences. The consequences would be the same for me or anyone else at this school,” Deroba added. “You can’t represent a Catholic high school when you act like that.”
Following Rogers’ firing, Saint John Vianney traveled to local rival Rumson-Fair Haven for a Sept. 7 meeting, and dropped a lopsided 43-6 decision to the Bulldogs.
This article was first published in the Sept. 13-20, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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