Wednesday night, the lawyer for the family of Jordan McNair told reporters that a pro-DJ Durkin Maryland football player had viciously punched a teammate in the face and separated his shoulder during a practice altercation Tuesday, the same day that the head coach was reinstated. According to the lawyer, the player “obviously felt empowered to act that way because of the coach’s return.”
While neither players’ names were divulged by the attorney, the alleged victim of the attack, punter Matt Barber, stepped forward Thursday to claim that he was left with a black eye and dislocated shoulder as a result of the incident. Additionally, Barber claimed that while he and an unnamed teammate were fighting, other teammates intervened to help the attacker by holding his arms back.
Not long after Barber’s story went viral, numerous Terrapin football players took to Twitter to essentially call the alleged victim a liar.
The most interesting name in that group of Terrapin players calling out Barber’s version of events is Ellis McKinnie.
On the same day Durkin was reinstated, the freshman offensive lineman used Twitter to express his frustration over the fact that no one in a position of authority was being held responsible for McNair’s death over the summer.
“Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate,” McKinnie wrote. “Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It’s never the wrong time to do what’s right.”
In a statement Wednesday night addressing the alleged practice altercation, athletic director Damon Evans said that the athletic department is “talking with the players involved and will take appropriate actions based on the facts.” While Barber outed himself as the alleged victim, the aggressor had not yet been publicly identified by name.
McNair’s lawyer did, though, say that the person responsible for the attack was a punter from Australia. The only Australian punter on the Terrapins’ roster is Wade Lees, who also utilized Twitter Thursday night to question the veracity of Barber’s portrayal of the chain of events that went down Tuesday.
According to the Diamondback, the U of M’s student newspaper, the fight was indeed between Lees and Barber — and only those two — but it had nothing to do with Durkin’s reinstatement or Barber being a whistleblower, a source with direct knowledge of the incident stated. From the newspaper’s report:
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.
“The scuffle lasted barely a few seconds with both guys throwing punches,” the source said. “Matt dislocated his shoulder when he missed swinging a punch.”
“No one assaulted Matt, nor did anyone hold him against his will while he was punched,” the source wrote in a text. “Matt was just as much an aggressor in the situation.
It’s unclear what if any punishment any player will face as a result of the incident, although it seems clear that, at bare minimum, Barber’s time as a Terrapin has very likely come to an end whether he was in the right or not.