After one Maryland football player said another player punched him at practice on Tuesday while other teammates helped, a bunch of players said that account was untrue.
This was backup punter Matt Barber’s account of his altercation with starting punter Wade Lees in The Baltimore Sun:
Barber, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., said word had gotten around on the team that he is a “whistle-blower” who talked to investigators about problems on the team. When Durkin returned to practice Tuesday to watch the team practice, his supporters on the team felt emboldened and began taunting Barber, he said. Some mocked and insulted him, while others threw footballs at him, Barber said.
Toward the end of the practice, Barber said, Lees attacked him, attempting to punch him in the face. While the two teammates were fighting, others intervened, trying to break up the fight and grabbed Barber’s arms behind his back, he said. That allowed Lees to punch Barber repeatedly in the face, leaving him with a black eye, needing multiple stitches on his forehead and a dislocated shoulder, Barber said.
“Barber’s arm was in a sling and his head was bandaged” when he talked to The Sun, according to reporter Luke Broadwater. Billy Murphy, a lawyer for the McNair family, told reporters Wednesday night that Barber was targeted due to his role as a “whistleblower” who told investigators about problems on the team.
Lees wasn’t alone in this account, either. A bunch of teammates backed him up on Twitter.
This piece of fabrication is an absolute joke and mockery of our team! Not gonna affect us moving forward in any way https://t.co/7C3NJhak67— Tre Watson (@MDQue_33) November 1, 2018
All 100+ players are behind this man. He was standing up for younger teammates who were being ridiculed and bad mouthed. Do not always believe what you see on Social Media. The truth always wins. #FakeNews https://t.co/BXjVpc7u3F— Jake Funk (@jakefunk34) November 1, 2018
This is absolutely fake. kids lying out his mouth, this altercation had nothing to do with the coach Durkin situation had everything to do with him picking on a younger players. There were many witnesses and wade has the total support of everyone here https://t.co/bnPhj8CKfw— Os3h $ain3 (@Oseh11) November 1, 2018
(That’s a sample, but there are others.)
“The scuffle lasted barely a few seconds with both guys throwing punches,” a source told The Diamondback’s Andy Kostka. “Matt dislocated his shoulder when he missed swinging a punch.”
The Diamondback’s account differs mightily from Barber’s:
But the source told The Diamondback in a text message that Barber’s longstanding attitude problems left him with few allies on the team, and the fight was initiated after Barber “tried to bad talk a player” to Lees. When Lees “told him off,” the source said Barber jabbed at Lees, which began a brief altercation that was broken up by a coach.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for our football student-athletes,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement. “However, we take any matters involving physical altercations extremely seriously. Our priority is to understand fully what transpired and we have referred this matter to the Office of Student Conduct to look into the detail.”
In other news
Roman Stubbs has an account of the past few days that’s worth reading in The Washington Post.
Using that as a guide, I compiled a list of candidates Maryland might target.
The Diamondback has an account from the student rally originally scheduled to protest Durkin’s reinstatement.