Shorter shorts were better, they were more NZ 'split'-like. BR shorts were dang near dad shorts.
But Rodgers was, without question, the most bad ass US distance racer there ever was. When's the last time someone took a shot at the US hour record some weekday evening? Rodgers RACED, he didn't train for 10 months then drop out of Boston. (Actually he did drop out of Boston one year, but he won it another four times.)
And two races he won don't get enough attention:
NYC 1976. On what was nearly an XC or Crossfit course, he nearly went under 2:10 when the WR was 2:08.33. Who knows how long or short THAT course was? And it had stairs, too.
Beppu, Japan, I think 75 or 76. Running against a relay team, Rodgers bested the WR or was close, on a course that was found to be somehow 200 meters short or something. The guy likely held the WR for a time there, if you really think about it.