The Buffalo Bills cut rookie punter Matt Araiza on Saturday, two days after a lawsuit was filed claiming he and two college teammates gang-raped a teenager last fall. The decision to give Araiza the punting job had drawn a lot of criticism from the public and raised questions within the team.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills cut rookie punter Matt Araiza on Saturday, two days after a lawsuit was filed alleging that he and two college teammates gang-raped a teenager last fall. The decision to give Matt Araiza the punting job had drawn a lot of criticism from the public and raised questions within the team.
The Bills decided to cut ties with their sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State after letting the veteran punter Matt Haack go on Monday. This made it possible for Araiza to take over punting duties.
Even though the Bills had known about the accusations against Araiza since late July, they decided to keep him. The team then stood by the player by saying a day after the lawsuit was filed that it had “conducted a thorough examination” of the situation.
The team’s crisis has been made worse by the release of Araiza. Coach Sean McDermott had trouble keeping his emotions in check when he talked about the situation after a 21-0 preseason loss at Carolina on Friday night.
McDermott said he didn’t know about some of the things that came out after the lawsuit was filed a day earlier, but he didn’t say what they were. He also kept saying that the team has work to do to find out the truth.
“It’s not something we’re happy about. “I’m hurt, and I know that their fans are hurt, too,” McDermott said about Buffalo’s fans. “It’s not easy to hear about some of the things I’ve heard about in the last few hours. To be honest, I haven’t slept much.”
McDermott decided that Araiza should not play against Carolina. The player watched the game from a place that was not made public. He also released a statement through his agent, Joe Linta, that said, “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed to be in the lawsuit or in the press.” I’m looking forward to quickly clear things up.”
Since there was no one else on the team who could punt, third-string quarterback Matt Barkley did it.
In a lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court, Araiza and two teammates were accused of raping a 17-year-old girl at a Halloween party at a house where Araiza lived off-campus. The district attorney’s office will decide whether to press charges based on what the San Diego police found out. Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the DA, said on Friday that there was no time frame for making a decision.
The focus in Buffalo is now on why the Bills didn’t know about the accusations against Araiza when they picked the San Diego State player in the sixth round of the draft in April. Even though Araiza was the best punter in college football last year and got the nickname “Punt God” for his strong left leg, he was the third punter picked in the draft.
It is not clear if Araiza told the NFL about the claims in the months before the draft.
The Associated Press reported that executives from two different teams said they knew Araiza was involved in an incident during the draft process, but neither person knew how serious the allegations were. Executives from three other teams said they didn’t know about the accusations against Araiza until Thursday, which was the day after the draft. All of the people who talked to The AP did so under the condition that they would not be named because the subject was so sensitive.
It’s not clear when the Bills first heard about the accusations, but they did by the end of July when the lawyer for the alleged victim, who is called “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, emailed the team’s legal counsel, Kathryn D’Angelo.
“She looked as if she was worried. Gilleon said, “She says she’ll get back to me, but she never did.” “I even followed up and said, ‘Hey, you guys haven’t talked to me or called me back like you said you would.'” And they didn’t care about that either.”
Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s lawyer, said that he told his client to be honest and tell the Bills about the accusations, but he didn’t say when. Armstrong also said that he had been in regular contact with the Bills over the past month to tell them what he had found out from his own investigation.
Armstrong said, “I absolutely do not believe that he ever forced himself on this girl or had sex with her while she was drunk or passed out or anything like that.”
The Bills also did what they called a “thorough examination,” which led them to decide to let Haack go in the end.
A person who knows about the situation told The AP that the Bills also told the NFL about the incident once they found out about it. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter was sensitive, wasn’t sure of the time frame.
The NFL wouldn’t say anything except that it was aware of what was going on.
This story was written by Julie Watson of the Associated Press and Rob Maaddi of the AP Pro Football Desk.