VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Every time New Orleans Saints running back Jimmy Rogers sets his sights on a starting slot, a Heisman Trophy winner seems to get in the way.
Rogers, who fought to establish himself in the Oklahoma lineup during his college days, now must fight to hold onto his starting spot with the Saints. In both instances, he had to compete against winners of college football's highest honor.
'In college I was a good player,' Rogers said Friday. 'I came out of high school with a lot of recognition and established myself in the Oklahoma wishbone. Then, all of a sudden, Billy Sims shows up and I have to fight him for a job.'
Rogers won the spot over Sims, becoming a four-year letterman who once scored three touchdowns in four carries. Sims, however, won the Heisman Trophy and was the 1980 No. 1 draft choice.
Rogers joined the Saints as a free agent.
While the Saints suffered through a 1-15 season in 1980, the year was not without its high spots for the 5-10, 180-pound back.
Rogers, who spent 1979 on the Edmonton taxi squad in the Canadian Football League, won a starting spot with the Saints late in the season. He led the club in rushing, averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
In a year when the Saints' running game never got on track, Rogers was the only player to rush for over 100 yards. He also led the team in kickoff returns with a total 940 yards.
Now another Heisman Trophy winner has turned up in Rogers' life. The second-year veteran has to battle for his job against No. 1 draft pick George Rogers.
'It's kind of tough to go through again,' Jimmy Rogers said. 'It's tough to fight a guy for a job when they have their names in the media and so many people want to see them play. It's tough, but that doesn't mean I'm going to back down.
'Being a football player means youcompete all the time. The fact that those guys have got the names and the Heismans doesn't scare me off. I came here to compete.'
Jimmy Rogers would not speculate on where he might end up on the Saints' depth chart in a backfield that includes George Rogers and Tony Galbreath.
'I'm not going to worry about it,' he said. 'I'm just going to try to learn things here at Vero and then try to be ready when my opportunity comes. George is a good player and I know he's around, but I was starting at the end of last year and coach Phillips says its up for grabs and he'll make George work for it.
But the battle for the starting spot has not kept Jimmy Rogers from giving his competition some help.
'Sure I give him advice and answer questions,' he said. 'That's sort of my role as a veteran and as his teammate. This is a team game after all.'