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Freak injury and surgery = a new normal

September 19, 2011
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

Jacob Rainey's athletic career - as he knew it - came to an end last week.

He is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior and the quarterback from Virginia was being recruited by several schools from major conferences.

Rainey suffered an injury on Sept. 3 in a scrimmage on a clean play and hit. That injury severed an artery in his right leg.

One week later Rainey had part of that right leg amputated.

From an Associated Press article, Woodberry Forest High School football coach Clinton Alexander posted a message on a website devoted to the school's athletics programs:

"Our program has turned its focus on embracing Jacob and his family and doing all we can to support and encourage them," Alexander wrote. "I am so proud of the courage Jacob and our players have shown. The Woodberry Forest family has extended so much love and support that it has created a sense of belonging and pride that is beyond explanation."

Again, it's another case in which no one knows what's going to happen the next day, or later on in the same one.

An innocent play turned into life-altering surgery.

The quarterback who had a lifetime of taking snaps ahead of him, now must learn a new life - a new way to walk, a new way to do things - he must learn a new normal.

What's your normal?

Is your normal to be in the background watching your child play?

Is your normal to be in the foreground questioning every move every player makes and every decision the coach makes?

Is your normal to shake the coach with one hand and stab that coach in the back with the other?

Is your normal to just watch and laugh at all the incredibly stupid things you hear come out of the mouths of fans?

Is your normal to back your child at all costs, regardless if he or she is just plain wrong?

Is your normal to just appreciate the fact your child(ren) have the opportunity to participate in athletics and whatever happens, happens?

University of Virginia football coach Mike London called what happened to Rainey a "tragic injury" and said his "thoughts and prayers" were with the player's family.

"Wins and losses are important," London said, "but sometimes the realities of what's really important are the young men and the family members and the sons that we are responsible for."

Let's get this straight - when someone says their thoughts and prayers are with someone, their thoughts do absolutely nothing for you - only the prayers do.

A thought is a thought and has no bearing on anyone except the person with the thought.

Prayer is an open letter to God asking for something. The prayer is for Jacob and his family to find peace during this terrible time.

About three weeks ago, coaches of a youth football team in Sarasota, Fla., started a brawl with a referee and the coaching staff and players eventually joined the fracas.

The video of the mess was turned over to the Sarasota Sheriff's office and it opened a criminal investigation into what happened. Battery against a game official is a felony in Florida.

Unfortunately, that is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last.

Those players joined the fight because adults started it over a football game.

A football game!

Adults take the fun out of life far too often.

Just curious if the dad who recently took his son out of a school and shoved him into another one is going to do such a thing when the son is 21 and cannot stand that political science class he is in; or if that dad will blister the physics professor for handing out a syllabus and actually making his son follow it and not taking any excuses for work not being done?

Hey dad, want to know why your son didn't get to play, let your son go ask the coach. If your son does not want to ask the coach, you don't get to.

Hey mom, want to know why your daughter didn't start, let your daughter go ask the coach. If she doesn't, maybe she already knows why - her attitude was pathetic in practice and affected the team in such a way that the coach had to change the practice plan to deal with your daughter.

Oh, your daughter didn't tell you that part - color me shocked.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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