The video of Patrick Graffree sucker punching Drew Barker has gone viral and is being picked apart by media and paparazzi sites alike. I find the video highly disturbing on numerous levels; I also find it disappointing, from a Kentucky Football team standpoint.
We can get the obvious out of the way: Graffree committed an assault; plain and simple. If it had it been witnessed on the street by a cop, he would have been arrested. Graffree also crossed another line by catching Barker not paying attention, giving no warning whatsoever, crossing an unwritten line of decorum. He walked in the door, took off his shirt, walked behind Barker, and then sucker punched him with every bit of force he could muster.
Not only did he blatantly assault the man with zero provocation, he did it against an oblivious Barker, not giving him the decency to defend himself. Despicable and unacceptable, there is no justification that could be spun to keep me from thinking Graffree is a terrible person. NOBODY deserves to be assaulted in that manner, period. Having said that, I have questions for the players involved, as well as the fallout.
"What in the Sam Hill were you doing there?"
Indications are that earlier in the night they were involved in a bar fight with EKU players. The video shows it was instigated by EKU but that is not the point. The players should have made the trek back up I-75 immediately after things settled down at the bar.
The players consciously decided not to leave, but stay in town and go to an EKU dorm where players reside! Unbelievable, this would be like Doc Holiday hanging out at the reception of the funerals for the Cowboys from the OK Corral showdown.
The only rational thought I can imagine is that the guys either lacked the emotional intelligence to know to leave town, or wanted to seem macho by showing up on campus. Unfortunately, rationale is not something that was in play that night, but no matter the reasoning, the guys should NOT have been there, period.
Secondly, "How in the heck are you going to stand there and watch your teammate get sucker punched and assaulted?"
This is the aspect of the video really sticking in my craw. I will not attempt to identify the other players that were there, although it seems to be clear who they were after a few minutes on Twitter. The bottom line is they watched a teammate be assaulted and not only did they not bat an eye to it; they did not even help Barker get up.
I know many are claiming that the UK guys realized they were outnumbered, but that is grade-A bologna. It was not 15 against three; there were no altercations or even heated discussions going on. One guy came in the door and committed the cowardly act and everyone scattered.
If this had been an orchestrated event, whether the UK guys stood there or not would not have mattered, they would have been attacked as well. Graffree even backed away quickly and was ready to defend himself because he was likely expecting some kind of retaliation.
Had they made the decision they were outnumbered and that was the reason, I guarantee you would have at least seen a reaction from them; pouncing to Barker's side or yelling at Graffree or something... none of this happened. Heck, the one UK guy seemed to be on the phone the whole time while watching.
Do NOT get me wrong here; I am not advocating fighting or even saying that the other two guys should have went in swinging. My disappointment is that they did absolutely nothing; in fact, if you did not know they were UK players, you would have thought they were EKU students who simply witnessed it. There's a middle area between responding with violence, and standing by as your teammate gets blind-sided.
Some are saying the UK guys were showing restraint or making a judgment call that they should not fight. Think about that for a second, they were all involved in a bar fight hours before and they did the equivalent of go sit on the guy's porch and wait for him to get home afterwards. Any good judgment or restraint had flown out that window long ago.
I want to reiterate, I am not saying they should have started a brawl or went after anyone that was not part of UK. I am simply saying that the reaction/lack thereof was what bothers me. You do not have to go far into the social media landscape to see former players saying much of the same things.
In no way suggesting retaliation, but if @timcouchtv got sucker punched like that the national guard couldn't have kept us off I-75 South.— Grayson Smith (@graysonsmith50) April 14, 2015
I played sports through high school and college and covered the three major sports during that time; I have been on my fair share of teams. I can assure you that throughout that time ,I played with people I thought deserved a good beating and I am sure many felt that way about me as well. However, I/they would never have allowed it to go down like that in that situation.
In conclusion, to be in that situation just hours after you had been in a bar fight is beyond bad decision making. It is approaching grade A stupidity and borderline asking for it, but nobody deserves that. Drew Barker - who isn't innocent in this either - deserves a better class of teammate, but more importantly... Big Blue Nation deserves a better class of athlete to make smarter decisions and have each other's back.