Videos: Chris Rainey dazzled with 103-yard return touchdowns against Stampeders

B.C. returner Chris Rainey (L) evaded Calgary's Ben D'Aguilar en route to a 103-yard punt return TD Friday. (CFL/Larry MacDougal)

It was a spectacular weekend for B.C. Lions' punt returner/kick returner Chris Rainey, who returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown against Calgary Friday and also returned a punt 103 yards for another touchdown in the same game. That's believed to be the CFL's first-ever pair of 100-plus yard TD returns by the same player in a single game, which is astounding considering all the great returners that have played in this league. Rainey's play wasn't enough to give B.C. a win, but it did earn him a nod as our Second Star of the week. His returns came at critical times, too. His first one came on the opening kickoff of the second half, and put the Lions within a touchdown:

Rainey's second 103-yard TD return came with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter, and allowed B.C. to tie the game at 21 after a successful two-point conversion:

What's remarkable about these returns is how different they are. The kickoff return involved a lot of cunning on Rainey's part, as he dialed back the speed a little at the start to stay with the wedge forming ahead of him, then used his agility to hit the small holes created by his blockers. He then turned on the jets and used his athleticism to vault over Calgary kicker Rene Paredes, but this was a return largely about positioning and moves, not raw speed. By contrast, the punt return is sheer speed on display; the Stampeders set up to contain Rainey, but underestimated his speed, so he blows right through the first batch of defenders, sets the second group up with bad angles, and then just makes a beeline for the end zone. The combination of these returns shows Rainey's unusual mix of field vision and pure speed, which may set him up for further big returns down the road.

As discussed in this week's Three Stars, Rainey has quite the past. He was born in jail, was raised by his grandmother for 15 years, had his father in jail for most of his life, and overcame a tough upbringing to make it this far, but he's also faced a 2010 charge for stalking and a 2013 one for simple battery and dating violence, and he was cut by the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 for violating a training-camp rule. Rainey hasn't seemed to cause any trouble in the CFL so far, though, either last year with Montreal or this year with the Lions. As Ed Willes of The Province writes, B.C. general manager Wally Buono thinks Rainey deserves a chance:

So who is Rainey?

The Lions are betting he’s the man he claims to be. Four years ago, the team partnered with the Ending Violence Association of B.C. and adopted violence against women as one of its core causes.

Wally Buono was asked if Rainey’s presence puts the team in a difficult situation.

“It does, but part of the program we support is changing behaviour,” said the Lions’ GM and vice-president of football operations. “You hope you have success there.”

Rainey, for his part, has been through this drill before. He arrives in a new town, his story emerges, and people expect the worst.

“People believe things, especially when they don’t know the person,” Rainey said. “I never was (a bad guy) in my life. I’m happy. I’m energized. I bring energy to every team I go to.”

Rainey's certainly brought energy on the field so far, especially with his returns this past week. We'll see if he can keep that up and if he can prove worthy of this second chance, on and off the field.

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