After Steelers rookie halfback Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with a single count of misdemeanor simple battery after an altercation with his girlfriend Thursday morning in Gainesville, Fla., it only took the Steelers about seven hours to announce they had cut him.
"Chris Rainey's actions this morning were extremely disappointing," general manager Kevin Colbert said in a release. "Under the circumstances and due to this conduct, Chris will no longer be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Those circumstances included the fact that when the Steelers drafted him in April in the fifth round of the NFL draft, they looked long and hard at a 2010 stalking charge against him involving a previous girlfriend when he was at the University of Florida.
Rainey, 24, of McCandless, also has had other recent troubles, including a citation for driving with a suspended license in September in Whitaker that was later dismissed for unknown reasons. A month ago, he was cited for defiant trespass after trying to enter the Meadows Racetrack & Casino outside Washington, Pa., from which he had banned himself, according to Magisterial District Judge Jay Weller's office. Notice of a $300 fine recently had been mailed to Rainey.
Rainey, who made $435,000 in his first year in the NFL, previously had signed himself onto a statewide "self-exclusion" list that banned him from all the state's casinos.
While different people have different reasons for putting themselves on the list, Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said: "Certainly what you expect to hear from people is that they recognize that they have a problem with gambling and [being on the list] is a way to stay out of casinos because they know if they don't, they'll be arrested."
Though the gaming board oversees the list, McGarvey said he could not comment on Rainey's situation specifically.
Rainey was charged in 2010 with felony stalking for sending a threatening text to his then-girlfriend that said, "Time to die."
That charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor, and he was ordered to perform community service and attend anger-management classes, which he completed.
The incident occurred a day after Florida's coach at the time, Urban Meyer, said Rainey had sustained a concussion in a game the previous weekend, and even Rainey's girlfriend then believed the head injury had changed his personality, texting him at one point during their altercation: "U have a concussion chris. Ur acting ridiculous."
Meyer initially dismissed Rainey from the Florida Gators, but reinstated him a month later.
After the draft, Colbert said of the incident: "Everybody knows about the texting situation."
"But we had some unique background on this kid because of his relationship with the Pouncey family. For them to take the kid in and provide him a home in high school said a lot to us," he said.
That referred to Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, his twin brother, Mike, now a center for the Miami Dolphins, and their family, which allowed Rainey, son of a single mother, to live with them during high school.
An email to Maurkice Pouncey's representative was not answered Thursday.
After the draft, Rainey said all the right things about the 2010 incident.
"I became a man, matured, learned a lesson not to do that ever again," he said. "Stuff happens for a reason."
But police in Gainesville said they got a 911 call at 8:26 a.m. Thursday reporting that an argument between a man and a woman had turned physical.
Witnesses told the officers that the two argued over a cellphone and that the woman entered a vehicle belonging to Rainey's roommate. Rainey confronted her, began pulling her out of the vehicle and then slapped her with an open hand, police said.
She ran away, and Rainey chased her because, police said, his cellphone was in a bag the woman was carrying. Rainey grabbed the bag, and they both fell down.
Neither Rainey nor his girlfriend suffered visible injuries, police said.
Police spokesman Ben Tobias said Rainey and the woman said they had been dating for nine months.
Because of the time it took for Rainey to be processed Thursday morning, Tobias said Rainey was not able to see a judge to see if he would need to pay a bond to be released.
That meant Rainey was still in jail when the Steelers announced he had been cut, and he had to stay overnight in the Alachua County Jail before seeing a judge at 9 a.m. today.
Huntley Johnson, a Gainesville attorney who represented Rainey in the 2010 incident, said Thursday he was representing Rainey but could not comment about the new case.
Rainey played in all 16 games for the Steelers as a rookie and led them with 1,035 yards on 39 kickoff returns. He had 102 yards rushing on 26 carries with two touchdowns, and 14 receptions for 60 yards.
Hours before the Steelers announced Rainey had been cut, one Steelers fan posted a comment on Rainey's Facebook page predicting what happened: "What were you thinking? The Rooneys don't mess around with that kind of behavior ... Well thanks for the year you gave us, and good luck!"
First Published January 11, 2013 5:00 AM