Meet Jacob Rainey, High School Football’s Amputee Quarterback

08.31.12 7 years ago

Last December, Woodberry Forest School quarterback and college prospect Jacob Rainey made the news when his career was (we assumed) tragically cut short by a mishap on the playing field.

Well, “mishap” is a pretty light way to put it. He got tackled and lost his leg. Here’s the most psychologically terrifying description of events possible from a recent profile in the New York Times:

Rainey went left and cut back to his right. A tackler dived and grabbed his legs. Rainey tried to shed him, fighting for more yardage, and then he went blank. “I feel like I blacked out for a second,” he told me. “I just heard a pop, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground.”

Jeff Johnson, Woodberry’s athletic trainer, knew it was bad even before he laid eyes on Rainey. “The screams were just overwhelming,” Johnson told me, recalling the moment months later. “I still hear them.”

Rushing to Rainey’s side, Johnson quickly realized that the injury was unlike any he’d seen. Rainey’s lower right leg was dislocated at the knee and cocked at an impossible angle — “an obvious deformity,” in Johnson’s words.

He asked the quarterback not to look at it. Rainey didn’t listen. He asked him to take deep breaths. Rainey was inconsolable. “My season,” he kept saying. “My season.”

The upside to the story is that Rainey got outfitted with a prosthetic and chose to keep playing high school football instead of becoming a Paralympics athlete, a move that inspired everyone (including Tim Tebow, who I guess just goes around getting inspired by things). With football season starting back up, the next chapter of Jacob’s story begins, and a full piece on his story in the Times isn’t a bad way to start it. I definitely recommend giving it a read, because not only is it inspirational, it features wonderful out-of-context quotes like this:

“Maybe my skin’s just not ready,” Rainey suggested.

My girlfriend works at an orthotics and prosthetics company that makes a lot of the artificial limbs you see on athletes like Jacob (and Winter, the real-life dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale), so stories like this have really been brought into perspective for me. If you need more of a reason to check out the article, take a look at some of the awesome photos that go along with it …

Keep at it, Jacob, the world’s on your side. And hey, amputee quarterback or not, you’re bound to have a better season than the NFL quarterbacks you’ve inspired.

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