Chris Rainey is "with the team" and practicing at Florida, a distinction just a single preposition away from being "on the team." This comes after Rainey, a junior running back for Florida, threatened his girlfriend via text message with "Time to die," admitted to it, and continued to be so belligerent with police he was arrested for aggravated stalking. (If not for the behavior after police arrived, this might have never surfaced at all.)
This has now--oh, some two days after the fact, after it's had enough time to sift down through the various levels of internet savvy and consumption--gotten to Gregg Doyel. I hate Doyel's writing. I certainly don't hate him, as I don't know him and probably won't since he doesn't seem like the cuddly, convivial type, and probably doesn't enjoy the kind of forehead-splitting headaches my variety of socializing leaves you with the next morning. I'm not fond of screed, and he doesn't seem to fond of the sixth and critically miscalculated cocktail. To each their own.
Therefore, it pains me to agree with this in a manner leaving me with an entirely different headache.
See, this stuff can be stopped. It's not impossible, and it would require tough love -- kicking players off the team after being charged with a crime, no questions asked, after the 10th or 15th or 20th arrest.
Rainey shouldn't be on the team, and him being back "with" the team but not necessarily "on" the team galls anyone who thinks the same, though the "what if that was your daughter" thinking is the most noxious and delusional Nancy Grace-ish reasoning you could possibly use. Rules and laws aren't made on emotion, and that's the point of having them, since that line of reasoning is the next door neighbor of the person who shoves due process out of the back of the pickup truck on the way to a backwoods tribunal. That line of reasoning is emotional, and as an emotional cripple I recuse myself from it completely.
I repeat, in a line by itself for emphasis: Rainey shouldn't be on the team. It's the easiest thing to say, but for once that easiest thing is the right thing to say here, which is why you'll end up agreeing with some really inane people for saying it.
That said, anyone commenting on the story should admit that they could be completely wrong here about the possible rehabilitation of Chris Rainey. I don't want to, and cite Spencer Hall's Ever-Changing Rules of Engagement as a reference.
1. People never change after the age of seven.
2. People make the same mistakes over and over again.
3. Never trust offensive coordinators in a non-option based system who stand on the field.
4. Decisions made about anything after 8 p.m. will be bad ones. If you must, make it about food or masturbation only.
5. The only way to function in life is to disregard rules one and two to a reasonable extent before acting on them.
I don't believe Chris Rainey can ever be changed. I don't know that for a fact, either, something anyone familiar with Marty Johnson would tell me, another deeply troubled running back who Meyer took back on the team in suspect circumstances whose story was and is one of redemption. I also know that Meyer kicked off another player with a domestic violence incident, Avery Atkins, and he ended up dead in a car at 20 by his own hand. Suggesting Meyer has this in mind when making a decision on Rainey does not go too uncomfortably far into the realm of amateur psychology.
To this point the players Meyer has forgiven for their transgressions have wildly divergent paths. Ronnie Wilson, the offensive lineman who shot an AK-47 off in downtown Gainesville in front of a zillion witnesses, blew his second chance and was kicked off the team. Jacques Rickerson's second chance also resulted in a forfeit when a domestic violence incident got him the last boot. Jamar Hornsby got the quick hook, only to go to Ole Miss and rack up a felony assault charge before he even saw the field. Brandon James was a model citizen after his marijuana arrest. Both Riley Cooper and Carlos Dunlap are living quiet lives as young millionaires in the NFL.
Zero tolerance is a nice concept for those who don't wield it, and is usually the first hammer someone with a limited tool selection and moral colorblindness reaches for in a world of grays .Perhaps we're all wrong on Rainey. Perhaps he was suffering from the aftereffects of a concussion. Perhaps autocorrect on his phone picked an amazingly coincidental time to go insane. Perhaps he is a crazed maniac waiting to strangle a woman. I'd assume the latter, since I like to assume the worst about people.
That's where rule #5 comes in: "5. The only way to function in life is to disregard rules one and two to a reasonable extent before acting on them." Note the phrase "reasonable extent." Letting a young man back on the team after a marijuana arrest or bad, drunken night out is below the limits of "reasonable extent." I get that, and understand the possibility for rehabilitation, the need to leave the door open for redemption, and the live possibility we may not know all the facts, and that Rainey may really be afflicted by a kind of ongoing Tourette's syndrome of the soul.
Accepting that: letting someone back "with" the team after they threatened a woman, by Meyer's own definition of core principles and cold, unemotional rules, is well past that reasonable limit. The aftermath is the quease of waiting to see who's wrong, and what those consequences might be.* Rules one and two might be wrong, but you dont' make rules without working from a lifetime of hard evidence.**
* I really don't believe he's doing this because of on-the-field circumstances. Rainey hasn't been all that effective a player, if that's what this is about, and Steve Addazio would probably just find some really elaborate way to squander his talents like running him right up the middle on a zone read with Brantley or having him start at left tackle. This is about control, a word that might be the central theme to Meyer's tenure as head coach in both the positive and negative connotations of the word.
**Mostly and sadly based on my own failings, the biggest and richest data set I have.