Eli Rogers said he was thinking of what his mother "would want for me" when he made the decision to skip her funeral to play an XFL game on Saturday.
The DC Defenders wide receiver's mother, Tranae Jackson, was laid to rest in Miami on Saturday, but her son, Rogers, was instead in Washington playing a game against the New York Guardians.
Asked why he had done so, Rogers told ESPN: "Man, I'm really just thinking about her and what she would want for me.
"We have a certain relationship where she understands that I'm not too fond of certain things.
"So I just wrote a letter, I let my family read it at the funeral and they said it was a great turnout.
"I can't wait to go back and speak to them so they can tell me all about it."
I know My Mother is proud of who I am today and the decision I chose today. Without Her sacrifice and humiliation, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is because of her I was able to be in a position to chase my dreams. That is all she her wanted from me. I Love You Ma— E L I (@__bELIeve17) February 15, 2020
Rogers had five catches for 49 yards in the Defenders' 27-0 victory over the Guardians.
The 27-year-old spent three seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers between 2016 and 2018, accumulating 822 receiving yards and catching four touchdowns.
Writing on Twitter before the game on Saturday, Rogers wrote: "Today was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in my life. My Mother's final service is today and I am not going to be there. After a long talk with God and her, I came to this conclusion... I know most people may think I am crazy. Selfish even..
"I respect your opinion. But in life, Sometimes, it is not about doing what you feel is right, it is about doing what you know is right. It's not about physically knowing someone. It is about know building a relationship with a person from the inside out.
"I know My Mother is proud of who I am today and the decision I chose today. Without Her sacrifice and humiliation, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is because of her I was able to be in a position to chase my dreams. That is all she wanted from me."Published 16 Feb 2020, 05:48 IST