Updated from Aug. 2 original posting. Rainey still remains unsigned.
Former Lakeland Dreadnaught and Florida Gator Chris Rainey locked down a roster spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a running back and kick returner in his rookie season after they drafted him with a fifth-round pick in 2012. One year later, Rainey feels like he has been locked out of the entire league.
Drew Fellios of the Bright House Sports Network recently featured the patiently unemployed Rainey, asking why a player with proven NFL skills has received zero interest from the rest of the NFL, after being released by his former team following his arrest over domestic battery charges which were later dropped by the victim, his girl-friend.
Rainey feels his side of the story was never heard, requested or respected. He claims he was raised to respect women and is not capable of the things he has been accused of. However, his latest arrest was his second offense in three years, after a text perceived as threatening toward a girl-friend got him in trouble in 2010.
When compared to the alleged crimes associated with Aaron Hernandez, Rainey's record seems minor; however NFL teams go out of their way to avoid negative publicity, and domestic abuse remains socially taboo. However, are his sins unforgivable?
Rainey averaged 26.5 yards per kick return, and may have racked up even more had chronic special teams penalties not repeatedly negated his efforts. He also made a few offensive plays as a professional running back despite worries over his smaller stature. Several NFL teams - including the Steelers - are currently in the market for capable return men and experienced running backs, but evidently not enough in need for Rainey's services to offer him a second chance.
Rainey would not be the first players to watch the career come to an end almost faster than it began, but he still believes he is worthy of a second look from someone. With the rate and severity of injuries running rampant through training camps this season, he may eventually get the phone call he's been patiently waiting for.
Until then, all he can do is stay in shape, stay out of trouble and try to stay on the NFL radar.
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