Former college football player Matthew Rogers was always smiling and having fun on “American Idol,” even when the 25-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, California, was the second finalist eliminated.
Q: What did Simon say to you after your show-ending serenade?
Matthew Rogers: Simon came up to me after the show, gave me a big old hug, and he said, “You know, Matt, I’ve always liked you. I’m really going to miss you on the show.” Then he took me to his dressing room and he whipped out his Kool cigarettes and lit one up and he started talking to me and he said, “Matt, it’s no reason to beat yourself up over it. The reason that you’re off the show is because you chose the wrong song. … If you need any help in anything, here’s all my numbers.” He gave me his number in England, all of his phone numbers, and he said if I need a reference or advice, anything like that, that I could give him a call.
Q: The relationship between you two was so entertaining. Was any of that scripted?
Rogers: The producers didn’t tell me what to say, but they definitely gave me the green light, like, “Hey, dude, have fun with this. Do your thing up there.”
Q: Do you think you took it too far when you said, “I want to make Simon’s head bleed”?
Rogers: I read that I lost an estimate of something like 400,000 votes when I made that comment. I think it goes both ways. First of all, I should think and be sensitive to the people out there that have kids. You know, everyone is different, and certain people were very offended by that. But at the same time, I’m a simple person and I’m a down-to-earth guy, so my natural reaction would be like, “Dude, get over it, take it for what it’s worth. I was totally joking.”
Q: What is your take on the controversy over Simon’s middle finger situation. Do you think he was really flipping Paula off?
Rogers: No, he was flipping me off. No, I don’t know where it started, but it’s definitely blown out of proportion. I mean, the guy leans against his hand and people think he’s flipping everyone off.
Q: Any regrets?
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Rogers: For country week, that was my thing, I should have thrown on my cowboy hat and sang a Toby Keith song that would freaking rock the whole show. You know, you listen to all these people, “I think you should do this,” “I think you should do that,” “America wants to see your sensitive side,” blah, blah, blah, so I ended up doing that. … I tried to please too many people instead of just being myself at the very end. That’s probably why I’m sitting here talking to you right now.
Q: What are you thoughts on William Hung?
Rogers: I think it’s awesome. Good for him. I think he’s gotten so popular because of his attitude, you know, “I tried my best.” It was entertaining, man. You could look at that thing over and over and laugh. I don’t know if you want to call it laugh with him or laugh at him — it’s pretty much laugh at him, his facial expression after he stopped, and it’s just funny, dude. You can watch it over and over, so I’m glad that something good happened to him. … I got a chance to meet him when he went down and performed live. He’s just got a good head on his shoulders. He’s a cool dude.
Q: Care to predict the winner?