By Mike McCall
Chris Rainey has rejoined the Florida football team, but he still has a few hurdles left to clear before he gets back on the field.
Rainey--suspended since a Sept. 14 arrest on felony stalking charges--is practicing with the Gators again but will not play Saturday against Mississippi State.
“Chris Rainey is working towards being part of our football team again,” UF coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that he violated a core value of our program, but he continues to pay a price for his actions. Chris will have to meet a set of conditions to become a part of our team again and although he is practicing, he will not play this weekend.
“The timetable for his return will depend on his ability to follow the guidelines we have laid out for him.”
Rainey’s legal troubles arose from a late-night spat with an ex-girlfriend, which culminated in him sending her a text message that read, “Time to Die [expletive].” The victim appeared in court the next day, saying she never felt threatened and that she didn’t want Rainey to be prosecuted.
Rainey accepted deferred prosecution from the state attorney that reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. It will be dropped altogether if Rainey maintains good behavior and meets public service and financial obligations.
“I am embarrassed and sorry for my actions and I apologize to everyone that I affected by my behavior,” Rainey said in a statement. “I’m working towards being a part of the Florida football program again, and I realize that representing this University is a privilege. I have spent the last several weeks reflecting on my actions and realized that is not who I want to be.”
In two games before the incident, Rainey had six catches for 34 yards and a touchdown and added 16 rushing yards on four carries. Upon his return, he’ll likely be a key part of Florida’s struggling offense, which Meyer said lacks big playmakers. Rainey has three runs of longer than 70 yards in his career.
Given the time since the incident and the resolution of the charges, it seems completely reasonable to me that Rainey's back with the team. I had guessed Miss St. as his return game when this happened, but it looks like my prediction will be off by at least a week.
What do you think? Too soon? Should be be allowed to play? And when he comes back, what do you expect from him? His stats weren't exacly eye-popping when he played, but with all Meyer's talk yesterday about the lack of big plays in the offense, you have to figure he'll be viewed as a big asset.
And let's not forget about this: