I missed this story. Completely. Had no idea about it. And in some way, I'm glad I did. It's just so inconceivable, so inhuman that I would rather not even know about it.
And until now, I did not know about it, living in permanent ignorance. Not on this planet, never on this planet.
On November 18th, 2005, the night before the annual Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama, Joey Barrett, Jr., a lifelong Alabama fan and now 25, went to a fraternity party at Auburn and yelled “Roll Tide!” A brawl then broke out, with Barrett stabbing one of the fraternity brothers.
The brother was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. Two others who were lucky enough not to get stabbed were also hospitalized.
Barrett then found a witness, who just happened to be clinically declared as mentally retarded, and offered him a car to admit to being the person who stabbed the brother.
And until now, I had not heard this.
Of everything that has happened. Of everything that I have heard of or seen, brawls breaking out at games, sometimes fatal, nothing like this.
Never have I seen a man go to a party in enemy territory with the obvious intent to start a fight a day before the game started.
Never have I seen a man be willing to stab someone just because he's a fan of a different team.
Never have I seen a man who would bribe a mentally retarded man, Louie Holtz, with a car to testify that Holtz stabbed the victim.
Never have I seen a man get off so easily.
Barrett, a semi-pro cage fighter who frequently takes part in “last man standing” competitions, must have known that he would incite a fight by yelling “Role Tide” at an Auburn fraternity party. He also must have wanted the fight, as he was armed with a knife.
He was set to take the stand in 2006, but claimed that Holtz would testify that he was the one who stabbed the fraternity brothers. No one involved in the fight recognized Holtz. No one. Then Holtz refused to testify. A mistrial was declared.
In the ensuing time, the investigation uncovered that Barrett and his legal staff had offered Holtz a car in attempt to bribe and convince him that he was the one who stabbed the brothers.
Barrett, who originally stood trial just for the first-degree assault charge, also was going to stand for bribing a witness.
And on Thursday, Barrett pleaded guilty to both charges, getting a deal that forced him to serve 18 months for the assault charge while concurrently serving one year for bribing the witness.
A year and a half in jail, that's all.
That's the story I wish I had not heard.
Had Barrett succeeded in killing the Auburn student, he would have been found guilty of second-degree murder. Not manslaughter, not assault. Murder. He was armed and had an intent to injure, even if it was not to kill.
He would have been serving a couple of decades in prison, not a matter of a 18 months in county jail.
Based on what he did, he's a lot more despicable that many convicted murderers and many people convicted of manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary.
And Barrett will also be out of jail long before any of these other people are out of prison.
As a sports fan, I don't get it.
As a human being, I don't get it.
Joey Barrett, Jr., an Alabama fan, went into an Auburn fraternity party either armed with a knife or with knowledge of where a knife was that he could use, and intentionally incited a brawl. He wasn't at a game in the heat of the passion; he went in with the intent to fight and the intent to hurt. It's fairly obvious.
Then, he bribes a mentally handicapped man to admit to everything.
And all Joey Barrett, Jr. gets is 18 months in jail?
I want to think he was just drunk. I want to think Joey Barrett, Jr. made a drunken mistake and then got caught up in the moment and made a mistake he regrets, but I can tell this is not the case.
Even if he were drunk, it does not change the fact that afterwards, he tried to find someone to take the heat for the incident.
And I'm ashamed.
Barrett is an embarrassment to the Southeast Conference, to collegiate sports, to the United States; his sentence is an embarrassment to the United States judicial system.
There is no other way around this stone.
I'd like to have never heard this story, but now I have. And it pains me.
Not as badly as Barrett may have intended it to hurt a couple of innocent Auburn students, but fairly close. And I don't want this story to go away, at least not before you hear it. You probably want to ignore it because it is just so vile, just so wrong. What's the word?
It's just so... inhuman.
Try to comprehend it; you don't have the genetics to.
Barrett should be locked up as long as any murderer; he should be treated like one. He should get the ninth level of hell all to himself like Spencer Hall of the Sporting News blog argued.
He won't, but he should.
And now I never want to think of this story again. I never want to think of this story again.
Please, never again.
Twenty days until college football season starts. That's my mind-set. Twenty days. Stories like this make those twenty days seem so much longer.
Stories like this make sports seem so unnecessary.