Victim, witness claim Rainey innocent of battery

Video courtesy of Alachua County Court via The Gainesville Sun.

Former Florida Gators and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with simple battery (dating violence). However, the alleged victim in the incident said Friday that Rainey did not commit the crime and that all charges in the case should be dropped.

According to Rainey’s attorney Huntley Johnson, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun’s Jon Silman, the victim sent an e-mail to the judge on the case as a plea for Rainey to have his charges thrown out.

“In no way did I feel physically threatened at any time,” she wrote. “Over the course of our relationship together, I have never been verbally or physically threatened by Chris Rainey. What happened [Thursday] is a misunderstanding and should not affect his future in any way.”

Rainey stands accused of slapping his girlfriend after an argument broke out over a cell phone. A witness told Gainesville police that Rainey pulled her out of a car and slapped her before he chased after her and both parties fell to the ground.

Johnson related to the court that the victim “was adamant there was no crime committed” and said the police report indicated there were no marks on her person, which would likely occur after an open slap to the face.

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Steelers waive former Gators RB Chris Rainey

The Pittsburgh Steelers have waived 2012 draft selection and former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey.

Selected by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Rainey performed well in his rookie season with the Steelers but was released by the franchise on Thursday after being arrested for a domestic violence incident.

“Chris Rainey’s actions this morning were extremely disappointing,” team general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “Under the circumstances and due to this conduct, Chris will no longer be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Rainey played in all 16 games for Pittsburgh in 2012, carrying the ball 26 times for 102 yards with five touchdowns as a running back. He also grabbed 14 receptions for 60 yards, returned 39 kickoffs for 1,035 yards (long: 68) and returned three punts for 16 yards. He had a stellar preseason for the team with two long offensive touchdowns and a pair of punt returns for touchdowns as well.

The team reportedly used Rainey’s previous transgression as a motivator during practice throughout his rookie season. Head coach Mike Tomlin supposedly used a version of his unfortunate “time to die” text message as part of that motivation. “OK, 22, time to die!” he apparently yelled during the first full-contact practice of his career. “I hear it every day, about five times a day,” Rainey said at the time. “It’s all good. I made a bad mistake in the past but I’ve moved on. It’s funny now.”

Rainey signed a four-year, $2.282 million contract with the Steelers and received a $181,000 signing bonus along with a $390,000 salary in 2012. He was set to earn $480,000 in 2013, $570,000 in 2014 and $660,000 in 2015.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he had another brush with the law just last month as he was “cited for defiant trespass, a summary offense, when he entered the Meadowlands Racetrack and Casino outside Washington, PA., after he had signed himself onto a self-exclusion list.” A self-exclusion list, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, exists as a safeguard that a person can request as a measure to ban oneself from such facilities under penalty of a fine.

Rainey was one of four former Gators on the team. The three former Florida players remaining on Pittsburgh’s roster include center Maurkice Pouncey, left tackle Max Starks and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

OGGOA RELATED: Former Florida RB Rainey arrested for battery

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Former Florida RB Rainey arrested for battery

Updated at 3 p.m.

OGGOA BREAKING: Steelers waive former Gators RB Chris Rainey

Former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey, back in Gainesville, FL after completing his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for simple battery (dating violence) due to a touch or strike.

This latest arrest, which occurred after an altercation with a woman he has been dating for approximately nine months, was first reported by Matt Watts of The Miami Herald.

According to a release from the Gainesville Police Department:

Witnesses told officers that Rainey and the victim got into an argument over Rainey’s cellphone. The female victim entered the vehicle of Rainey’s roommate, and Rainey confronted her on the passenger side of the vehicle, and began pulling her out of the vehicle.

Witnesses then observed Rainey slap the victim across the face with an open hand. Both Rainey and the female victim then fell to the ground. The victim was able to run away, but Rainey chased after her because his cellphone was in a bag the victim was carrying. Rainey grabbed the bag again, and they both fell to the ground again.

Neither party suffered visible injuries from the encounter. Multiple witnesses confirmed the incident.

According to The Gainesville Sun, which obtained the arrest report, the incident began when his girlfriend questioned him about feeling a phone in his pocket while they were saying goodbye early in the morning. Rainey proceeded to discard the phone before returning to retrieve it and learning that his girlfriend had taken it into her possession.

When police responded to the victim’s phone call, Rainey denied accusations and witness accounts that he slapped his girlfriend. “Rainey admitted he argued over the phone, but denied slapping the victim and said they had no physical contact other than him grabbing at her bag to get the phone,” the paper reports.

Rainey was last arrested and charged with aggravated stalking in Sept. 2010. after threatening a woman he dated sporadically for approximately three years. The third-degree felony charge was reduced to a first-degree misdemeanor at the request of the victim and Rainey received six months of probation as a penalty for his actions. He fulfilled the terms of his deferred prosecution agreement on April 7, 2011, according to Alachua County Court records.

He is being held without bond and will remain in jail until he stands in front of a judge on Friday, when he will be represented in court by attorney Huntley Johnson.

Rainey will likely face an NFL suspension once the league office reviews the incident.

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

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Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2012 (check out Monday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From crazy occurrences and strange decisions to receiving major awards and being involved in the biggest sports stories of the last 12 months, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

For every major story and exciting moment that occurred in 2012, there were plenty of instances in which Gators fans could not do anything but shake their heads, furrow their brows or shrug their shoulders at something they just saw or heard. Below is a list-within-a-list of the 10 most absurd moments of the year (sorted chronologically). Don’t worry, the rest of these stories are much shorter, so keep reading.

(1) Right in the middle of spring practice on Feb. 17, with coaches raving about team chemistry and noting massive improvement from the previous year, junior safety Matt Elam tweeted out a picture that looks like junior defensive end Dominique Easley riding his scooter inside the Florida football facility and around the Gator Head the players touch before heading out to the field each week. (2) One week after playing his last game as a member of the Gators basketball team, then-senior point guard Erving Walker found himself in trouble with the law when he was charged on March 30 with two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing a taco from a street vendor and evading police in Gainesville, FL. (3) Need a lesson on how to turn off an employer? Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney went off on an epic Twitter rant on April 12, sending out derogatory statements about his wife and cousin (fellow former Gators star cornerback Lito Sheppard) only to claim three hours later that his account was hacked. (4) What better way to honor your favorite player than to get your hair cut and designed to look like him? That’s what San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez did for forward Matt Bonner. Gonzalez’s hair cut nearly got him suspended from school on May 16, but it also got Bonner’s attention and resulted in a pair of tickets and a meeting at a playoff game. (5) After some rather mundane barbs went back-and-forth between Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin over the summer, Mayor Nancy Berry of College Station, TX decided to post a comedic video of her poking good-natured fun at the former Texas defensive coordinator on June 1.

(6) Hours after taking home the first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history on June 10, Gators track & field suffered a serious scare in the air when its plane suffered a cracked windshield at 37,000 feet and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL. The windshield shattered after the plane landed but everyone was OK. (7) How do you answer a quarterback controversy and answer questions about which signal caller is going to start the first game of the season? Start both of them! That’s what Muschamp did on Sept. 1 when sophomores Jacoby Brissett (quarterback) and Jeff Driskel (wide receiver) both came out with the starting offense on its first play from scrimmage against Bowling Green. (8) With Muschamp leading the team, he is sure to find his way on this list at least once per year. In a 13-day span, Muschamp made headlines by being himself. After Florida defeated LSU at home on Dec. 7, he decided to celebrate by crowd surfing over his own players in the locker room. Two weeks later, at halftime against South Carolina, Muschamp vented his frustration about the officiating to Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network. He saw an official walking by as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms and made sure to make it known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” (9) With ESPN’s College GameDay in Gainesville for the South Carolina game, having former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte on set as the guest picker was an easy and obvious decision for the network. Never did ESPN guess that he would find difficulty in reading off the list of picks provided for him. (10) Why is Chad Johnson in Gainesville … and why is he meeting with Florida? Those were questions fans asked on Nov. 2 when it was revealed that the NFL free agent wide receiver – fresh off being embarrassed on national television when he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly hitting his wife – had shown up in town and was taking pictures with players on the team one day before UF took on Missouri.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 (2012)

At the conclusion of the 2012 NFL regular season there were 31 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 27 players participated in week 17 action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the last week of the 2012 regular season.

DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two tackles (one solo for loss), sack, two QB hits, pass defense, interception (14-yard return) for touchdown [Video]^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 16 (2012)

Now 16 weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 31 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 21 players participated in week 16 action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the 16th week of the 2012 regular season.

S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Three solo tackles, interception [Video], two pass defenses^
CB JANORIS JENKINS*, St. Louis Rams: Six solo tackles, interception returned for touchdown (41 yards) [Video], pass defense^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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11 Gator Bites for Thursday, December 20

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» The New York Jets finally decided to bench quarterback Mark Sanchez after a five-turnover performance on Monday night. Despite the fact that Tim Tebow had been Sanchez’s back-up all season long, the team decided to promote third-stringer Greg McElroy to starter, leapfrogging Tebow and breaking a promise the team made to him when they traded for him in the offseason. When Denver was shopping Tebow and had equal offers from New York and Jacksonville, the player evaluated the situation to determine which would be his best destination. Sources close to the player told me at the time that Tebow chose the Jets for two reasons. New York told him that they would utilize him in a number of roles right away and that he would also get a legitimate chance to start for the Jets should Sanchez either be injured or benched. While the team did put him in occasionally as Wildcat quarterback and as a punt protector, he was barely used in the offense and never correctly. He was inactive the first time New York replaced Sanchez during a game and has now been jumped over by McElroy for the starting job this week.

» Sports Illustrated’s Peter King summed up the situation well Wednesday on Twitter: “I think what happened w/ Jets is they saw Tebow have some bad practices, then he wasn’t electric on early touches, and they gave up on him.” Putting it another way was ESPN’s Ed Werder, who tweeted: “Jets traded 2 draft choices, paid Broncos part of Tebow’s signing bonus, ignored Bronco performances, never gave him chance” With all of that being true,’s Ian O’Connor went off on the franchise in his latest column. “The Jets used Tebow, and then abused him,” he wrote. “They used him to sell tickets and PSLs and steal a few more headlines from the local big-boy franchise that had just won another Super Bowl title. They abused him Tuesday by declaring that a seventh-round pick who has been inactive for 13 out of 14 games gives the Jets a better chance to do something they fail to do: win.” O’Connor also looked to Tebow’s record, noting that he was 8-4 last season before falling to New England in the playoffs and is 9-7 in 16 career starts, which included three with an interim coach and did not include last year’s victory in Miami when he came in for Kyle Orton. “How is he less qualified to face San Diego than McElroy, who has one moderately successful relief appearance behind him and who has eternal backup written all over him?”

Check out NINE more Gator Bites…after the break!
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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 15 (2012)

Now 15 weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 31 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 23 players participated in week 15 action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the 15th week of the 2012 regular season.

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: 10 receptions [team-high] for 92 yards (targets: 19 [team-high], long: 20), touchdown [Video]; solo tackle^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 15 (2012)

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