Rainey deserves a second chance

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I’ve been way off in my predictions this season, but here’s one that I’m sure I’ll get right: Some in the national media are going to take shots at Urban Meyer for letting Chris Rainey return to the team this season.

They’ll say that it’s too soon, that all Meyer cares about is winning, that after all the arrests over the past five-plus years Meyer needs to make an example of Rainey and cut him loose, that Meyer is bringing him back because the Gators are desperate after back-to-back losses.

My take on Tuesday’s news is this: Rainey, by all accounts, is a good kid with no history of violence against women (or anyone else); the victim said she did not fear Rainey, nor did she want to pursue charges against him; the case has gone through the judicial system and Rainey has accepted a deferred prosecution agreement that means his record will be clean if he stays out of trouble over the next year; he is going to miss at least five games (almost half his season) over a misdemeanor charge. At any other school, five games would be enough punishment for the same exact offense and outcome.

Given all that, Rainey deserves a second chance.

If he was a bad kid, an attitude problem with a history of messing up and embarrassing his school, then Meyer would have cut him loose. He did that to a player this past summer, booting defensive tackle Gary Brown, a former five-star recruit. But Rainey is in good standing with his coaches and teammates. He’s one of the most-liked players on the team and a guy who has a history of doing things the right way. On the 911 call before his arrest, the victim’s sister even said that Rainey did not drink or take drugs and she just wanted the police to come and calm him down and get him to leave.

In a statement from UF on Tuesday, Rainey accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to everyone involved.

He’s ready to move forward. And his next step is not going to be onto the football field, playing for the Gators. Rainey is going to have to go through a pretty tough process before he earns the right to play for the Gators again. Some are assuming he will return for the Georgia game in two weeks. I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I remember when defensive tackle Steven Harris missed almost his entire senior season in 2006 when he was given a similar opportunity to work his way back onto the team by Meyer. He eventually earned his way back. Rainey will have the same opportunity.

He deserves a second chance.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Even Rainey’s girlfriend didn’t take the incident seriously. I understand that it was her sister who called law enforcement. I agree, give him a second chance, not because the Gators need him but because it’s the right thing to do. He worked hard his whole life to be a Gator football player and this one incident shouldn’t derail his dream.

  2. After reviewing all the facts of this case, the true crime would have been to toss the young man off the team.

    We all have done things in our lives that we are not proud of doing. He needs to prove to himself and others that he is a better person than his behavior leading to his arrest.

    I will be rooting for you Chris Rainey.

  3. This is a bad decision. There are a number of problems here. We have had serious problems in the last few years with players going to jail. Playing football for the University should be a privilege. Telling an individual, no matter how talented they are, that they should get a second opportunity at a privilege after they threaten to kill a woman is not good. Rainey already has a second opportunity afforded to him by the judicial system. He also, from what I understand, is still a student at one of the best academic institutions in the United States. Urban Meyer is one of, if not the highest, paid teachers in the state of Florida. I don’t think this is the proper lesson for Rainey or the team.

  4. I respectfully disagree. Dismissing Rainey from the team will not “destroy his young life over one mistake.” (Look at Cam Newton.) A mistake is coloring outside the lines, breaking a pass route off too soon, or trusting a slick used car salesman and buying a lemon. No, implying that you are going to kill another human being is a crime, not a “mistake.” Just because the spineless state attorney, Bill Cervone, makes his bones by keeping football playing thugs eligible by refusing to effectively prosecute them for clear felony violations does not lessen the import of what Rainey DID! (Bill Cervone actually has a Gator NC ring, I am not making that up!) Does anyone remember Cecil “The Diesel” Collins? Look him up on the Fla. DOC website. What will it take for UF, Meyer, and the other rose colored glasses wearing fans to wake up? The Gators need a zero tolerance felony crime policy. How many more arrests will be tolerated before someone is seriously hurt by a Gator player? What are we up to, 31 arrests and counting? Football at what cost?

  5. While I feel I don’t know enough to make an informed comment, I have seen the beginnings of the national media taking shots. Don’t know how it will all work out, but hope the conditions set for Rainey’s return by Urban are adequate to address the situation.

  6. I’m curious about all you apologists for Rainey and other team members arrested for felonies that are later downgraded to misdemeanors. How do you know he is a good kid? Are you personally acquainted with him? What if it had been your daughter or granddaughter he threatened? Would you be as quick to forgive and recommend Meyer let him back on the team? People make big mistakes in life and have to pay big prices for their stupidity. Rainey and others like him may deserve second chances. If they do, let them go to other schools to receive them.

  7. If one cannot make an informed comment, they have not been paying attention. Spurrier to Zook to Meyer and one thing has not changed: football playing thugs are given a pass on crime, some of it quite serious. Forget about a certain running back stealing text books out of the law library and selling them (second degree felony, by the way), or a certain safety out burglarizing businesses, or even stupid bar room brawls downtown by a certain line backer. Or even a recent player who rang up a huge tab on a dead student’s credit card! Rainey threatened to kill someone. Carlos Dunlap was so intoxicated he passed out behind the wheel of a running car. The potential for mayhem, and worse, is growing. Sure, I guess we should all trust a coach to set adequate conditions for Rainey’s return, and “hope” for the best, right, Another Steve? After all, he’s objective and only has society’s best interest at heart! Right. I ask again, football at what cost? How much more are we willing to put up with? 31 and counting!

  8. He deinitely fits right in with the experienced veterans on this team. The high character, high performing players from the 2008 and 2009 teams already left for the NFL. The “leftovers” are acting and playing just like that label. The irony is that may be a guy like Rainey is the face of UF football for 2010.

  9. ALC and Rooferman,

    You are very fortunate to be blessed with perfect character. And, I guess you or one of your loved ones will never have such a lapse in judgment. If you did, I’m sure you would willingly except the life sentence, as you must believe that every crime is unforgivable.

    It’s easy to sit on a high horse and condemn. It takes courage to do what you believe is right, and I praise Meyer for that.

  10. I dont know anything about this kid…..good or bad. If he sent my wife or daughter a text, a note, or a message in a bottle that said Time to die………….4 games would be a joke. Send that same message to Urban’s daughter or wife and see how he responds.

  11. rooferman you are an idiot! You contridict yourself, you said felony violations, Rainey was guilty of a misdemeanor and the woman did not even press charges. If it happened to another student who was on an academic scholarship we would never know about it and nothing would happen to the student. So stfu!

  12. Rooferman, I’m glad you’ve led such an exemplary life that you can sit in judgement of a kid who’s never had any problems before, never been a disciplinary case, and who did nothing more than apparently shoot his mouth off, so to speak, in a moment of passion. There but for the grace of God goeth I, but apparently not you. He did something inappropriate, dumb even, but not harmful. You don’t derail a kid’s professional path over something like that. Now go back to your FSU boards, or wherever you came from, and tend to your own business.

  13. As Mike Bianchi, the columnist for the Orlando Sentinel put it so succinctly: “I have just have one question about the decision: If Rainey had threatened one of Meyer’s own daughters with a text message that said “Time to die (expletive)” would Rainey be allowed back on the team?
    If Meyer can honestly answer that question “yes” then he made the right decision.”
    That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

  14. Chris Rainey made a mistake… let his passion get the best of him in an existing long term relationship. If the young lady says all is well… then we should accept that.

    Chris has paid enough. You are welcome back. I trust you have learned from it. Lets move on.

  15. If Meyer is giving S.A. chance after chance then Rainey should be able to return. Chris made a huge mistake and has served his time and paid his dues. With that being said S.A. gets another playmaker to under utilize.

    Go Gators!

  16. Robbie, I think that your grading system should have included “I” for incomplete or “N” for needs improvement. I admire that Coach Meyer admits that there are areas that need to be addressed and corrected; I just wish that all of the coaches would express the same dedication for improvement.

  17. Rooferman is shooting off at the hip a little bit. Has he never been in an altercation that escalated verbally? Has he ever said things that he regrets? Has he ever had a concussion? Remember, this happened the weekend of the concussion and the kid had never been in trouble before. If Rooferman gets into a yelling match with his wife, friend, or child and says things that he regrets should he lose his job. His chance at a future? He’s a junior, he would have to start over and his NFL chances would be shot. It’s already difficult enough with his physical stature to make a team. I find it interesting how people just blab on by spreading misinformation.

  18. Good article. Everyone is blasting not only Meyer but Chris Rainey as well for this incident. A few responses that I felt I needed to say.

    A lot of people bring up the 30 arrests, yes that is a lot, but it doesn’t mean one person should be treated differently just because others have messed up before him. How would you feel if the next time you got a speeding ticket the cop was tired of giving out tickets in the same area and decides to write you a reckless driving ticket instead of the speeding one that you deserve? Each case should be treated as it’s own separate incident.

    The fact that Meyer has list of things that Rainey has to accomplish to be fully back on the team and isn’t just letting him back on the team shows that Meyer cares about the quality of life for Rainey, and not just winning. even though this news comes out after two losses, I don’t feel that the losses factored into the decision at all.

    People who don’t understand why Urban Meyer would let Rainey back on the team need to read the Marty Johnson story to realize that for Urban Meyer second chances are about more than football.

    A number have people lashing out at Rainey, including Pat Dooley, have brought up the question, “what if that was my daughter?” and answered with maybe Rainey would have other things to worry about than being kicked off the Football team, insinuating that he would break his legs. whether joking or not, and whether true or not, I pose another question.

    who here lambasting Chris Rainey really knows him as a person? I ask you what if Rainey was your son? if you are putting yourself in the shoes of a parent and asking what if statements, try that one on for size. what if you knew that he wasn’t a person who would commit harm to someone else, and you cared about his well being? would you be so quick to throw him under the bus then?

    This is a first time offender, who never actually harmed, not attempted to harm anyone. The victim was more irritated than scared, and at the end of the day he was charged with a misdemeanor that is deferred and may not even go on his record. It is a bit of an overreaction to kick him off the team and then forget about him.

    and I have to respectfully disagree with rooferman, saying something you shouldn’t in a fit of passion is a mistake. Yes it is a crime, but it was also correctly determined to be a misdemeanor not a felony. The accounts of what happened don’t even match the charge that he was originally given. And while kicking him off the team may not destroy his life, it certainly would do more harm than the harm actually done to the victim in this case. Which in my mind is a punishment that does not fit the crime.

    That’s just my two cents.

  19. Stambaugh; I sit in judgement of no one. I merely ask a simple question, two really. How many arrests will be too many, what is the over/under? 50? 75? Are we really going to wait until someone is seroiusly hurt, or worse, by one of out players? I am a double gator, undergrad and grad, this is where I come from and I live in Gainesville, you ever stop to consider I know more about it than you do, and even more than I have written about? Maybe 31 arrests is not enough for you, but it is for me. I have had it with some of the thugs we have on the team. I fear a day of reckoning is near.

  20. I said it before and will say it now. Everyone deserves a second chance. Rainey is a good kid and player and he is still a Gator. Even Meyer had a second chance to come back and coach the team. Give Rainey a chance!

  21. @rooferman – I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I’m pretty fed up with all the arrests myself. However, I do think Rainey deserves a second chance. I know I’ve been really angry before, and said some really dumb things that I didn’t mean. Anger has a way of making people do that. I think missing half his season is punishment enough.

    And by the way, if UF instituted a “zero tolerance felony crime policy”, Rainey would still be on the team, because his ended up being a misdemeanor.

  22. Rooferman…and others…. I agree getting arrested is generally not a good thing…but … very few of these arrest have led to convictions..and to think we should cut a guy just because of an arrest is rediculous. That said…31 is not a good number, but most all of these are individual issues ..not systemic team or coaching issues.

    Meyer has the young adult at heart,… not just the score on the board. Rainey should come back…

    and… a program to continue emphasis on staying out of trouble should continue to be emphasized.

  23. Thirty something arrests is indeed too many, but that doesn’t mean you hammer the next recipient of an arrest without regard to the particulars of the case. And in this case, Chris Rainy doesn’t deserve to have the hammer drop on him. There simply isn’t much to this case; end of story. A little empathy would be nice.

  24. To Scott Stambaugh:

    I and most others hae made plenty of mistakes in our lives. However, I have never threatened or even thought about threatening to kill someone. If he’s a good kid, then he can go prove it somewhere else. What would Urban’s response be if someone sent such a text to his own daughter? I don’t think it would be the same. Do you?

  25. Rooferman kills me. And the sad part is, there are a number of other “fans” that thinks like he does. These kids are called gifted athletes when they’re out there winning for you, but the second they get into trouble they’re called “thugs.” Get a grip. But hey, judging by some of these responses I can tell that he is not the only one who has never done anything wrong in life. If your every move was in front of a camera like these guys’ are, it’ll probably be a pretty bad movie.

  26. Has anyone thought that the reason Rainey’s girlfriend claimed she wasn’t afraid of him was because she knew he would escape jail time like all UF players, then come back for her if she said he was violent? Generally, people who don’t fear physical harm don’t call the police to remove individuals who have just threatened their lives; isn’t the code of the “‘hood” reliant upon being dishonest with the police, anyway? Ken, wanting your children to refrain from threatening the lives of women does not exactly entail lofty expectations; as for the other Mr. Empathy, JLBOB, yes, I would absolutely feel the same way if it was my son. Although my son would never be enough of an idiot to do something like this, I would tell him that he’s been exceedingly foolish and that he deserves the brunt of his punishment. Have all of you Gator football-loving posters realized that rejecting rooferman’s zero-tolerance policy leaves the door wide open for more offenses of this kind? Without moving toward a zero-tolerance policy, what exactly incites a change in attitude from these players; if they can get into fights, drive while intoxicated, and threaten people without losing their spot on the team, then why would they ever be tempted to be upstanding citizens? THANK YOU, Sam Floret, because Rainey needs to go somewhere else to prove his great character; he has lost credibility here. Rooferman and Sam Floret are two of the few non-emotion, non-football driven minds who have posted here, and whoever Rooferman Doesn’t Make Sense is, you’ve successfully related your own name with nonsensical arguments. If Rainey wants a good life, why doesn’t he do what the intelligent people of the world (the ones who deserve and use their college education) do and use his degree for a job? Sorry that little Chris is scared of maintaining his grades and making something of himself; that is, something OTHER THAN a belligerent fool.
    What exactly renders him worthy of a second chance? Yes, he HAD a clean record until he threatened a woman’s life, and now he doesn’t. If every athlete will get their record clean for being good after pulling something like this, then how can the UF coaches say this hasn’t happened before in Rainey’s past? This is too easy of a pass; he lost the privilege of playing football by being a belligerent idiot, and as he likely wouldn’t ever have the grades to get into UF without an athletic scholarship, the school should drop him.

  27. No one deserves a second chance, but that’s the whole message of the Bible, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs (i.e., and there’s alone) is the Kingdom of God.” The idea is expressed in the sentiments in the old hymn often sung at Billy Graham meetings, “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood (i.e., Jesus’) was shed for me, and at the bidding of Thy love, oh Lamb of God I come, I come.”

  28. Funny how a football player threatens to kill a woman and he gets a slap on the wrist but an exchange student starts screaming in his apartment and he’s shot in the face by UFPD. Now where would anyone have gotten the idea of football players being privileged?

  29. I like Rainey, why the inquisition on a guy for victimless crime of passion? While we are on the religious tip, I’ll quote the prophet Chris Rock, “If you never haveth practiced your alibi naked in the mirror, you’ve never been in love”

  30. MF: Thanks, a voice of sanity.

    g8trb8 : I’ll shut up, after this: google “Florida gator football players arrested” and see if you change you mind, or even think about what I’ve said.

    Some folks just cannot be reasoned with.

    Go Gators, beat Mississippi State. See you guys at the Swamp Saturday! You’ll recognize me, I’m the guy NOT booing.

  31. Let’s take a step back and look at it from societal point of view. It’s easy as it seems to be for Meyer to justify his actions until someone threatens his own child. Do you really think if Florida had an unbeaten record until now, Rainey would have been given the chance? Where’s the accountability here ? Meyer historically had made calls of bringing troubled players to suit his needs ……………….if he had continued to kick players of his team during his tenure @ Florida, would he still have the chmapionships ?
    Meyer did what he had to do before the team has a losing record and PLEASE dont for a second say that he had Rainey’s interest in his heart. If it was his child that was threatened then he would have made it his mission in life to make sure the charges would not be dropped and the hammer fell hard.