Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers was charged Friday with one count of carrying a concealed weapon after being arrested Thursday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after a loaded 45-caliber handgun was discovered in his carry-on luggage.
The Cleveland city prosecutor elected to knock down the the charge to a fourth-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Rogers had been held on a third-degree felony, according to Cleveland police.
Rogers spent Thursday night in the Cleveland city jail. He posted $1,000 bond and will be in court at 8:30 a.m. Saturday to offer a not-guilty plea, his attorney Patrick D'Angelo told reporters outside the Justice Center after Rogers was released Friday. D'Angelo said Rogers will waive a preliminary hearing and open a discussion with the prosecutors about resolving the matter.
Rogers apologized to the Browns and their fans and outside the Justice Center, saying he hurriedly packed his bag as he prepared for a trip to Texas for Easter. He said he was licensed in Michigan to carry the gun and had been making frequent trips the Detroit to rent his home, which was why it was in his bag.
"I want to apologize to the Cleveland Browns and my fans in the community for this unfortunate incident,'' Rogers said in video posted on WEWS Channel 5's web site. ''I'm truly remorseful. By no means dd I intend or willingly or knowingly take a firearm into the airport. That's not something I would do. I've had a concealed handgun license for several years now out of Michigan. I've owned a weapon for several years and I've had no incidents up to this point. I'm completely sorry to the community and to the Browns. I didn't mean to embarrass anybody with the nature of these events. That's not just my character.''
Rogers said he was in a hurry when he packed.
''I was late to the airport, not giving it much thought and not doing my due diligence that the gun was properly put away or stowed,'' he said. ''I threw some toiletries, my computer in, and I was off to the airport, not knowing it was in there. I would never intentionally take a firearm or weapon of any kind to the airport. I do have a handgun license and I know the severity of any offense.''
Rogers was stopped at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at an airport Concourse C security checkpoint when a loaded 45 caliber handgun was discovered in his carry-on luggage, according to a police press release.
Even if he is not convicted, Rogers could be subject to suspension by the NFL under its personal conduct policy. He sounded like he hoped to convince commissioner Roger Goodell that he didn't realize the gun was in his bag.
''That's something you'll have to deal with when it comes about,'' Rogers said of a possible league suspension. ''Hopefully when it's all said and done and laid on the line, everybody will see the earnestness and the situation. I understand the severity of the situation. Hopefully it's dealt with with some kind of consideration. We'll take it step by step.''
Rogers was driven away in an SUV with Browns vice president of security Carl Meyer in the front passenger seat.
The charge against Rogers may not mean the end of his nine-year NFL career.
His case seems similar to that of Akron city council president Marco Sommerville, who faced a felony weapons charge in November, 2007 after an X-ray at the Akron-Canton airport showed a handgun in his briefcase. According to a Beacon Journal story, Sommerville said he was rushing from the parking lot to catch a shuttle to the terminal when he grabbed the briefcase, forgetting the gun was inside.
In that case, an assistant Ohio attorney general found it difficult to prove that Sommerville had knowingly carried the gun, which was key to a felony conviction. Sommerville was allowed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor and was fined $500. He lost his license to carry a weapon for a year and his 38-caliber revolver was destroyed.