Four months after being drafted into the National Football League (NFL) by the Buffalo Bills, rookie punter Matt Araiza, AKA “Punt God,” has been released from the team.
On Saturday (August 27), Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced the decision to cut ties with Araiza stems from a civil lawsuit filed against him and two other individuals accusing them of gang-raping a minor last year at an off-campus party at San Diego State University.
The lawsuit filed on August 25 alleges that Araiza had sex with a 17-year-old girl at his home and then took her to a room where she was repeatedly raped. The other two men named in the lawsuit are Zavier Leonard, a football player currently on San Diego State’s roster, and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko.
“I would say the last 48 hours has been very difficult for a lot of people,” Beane said during a press conference. “It’s been tough, and we sympathize with this whole situation, all of the parties involved. This young woman, what she went through. You really feel bad for that whole situation, and ultimately this is a legal situation, and we don’t know all of the facts. That’s what makes it hard, but at this time we just think it’s the best move for everyone to move on from Matt, and let him take care of this situation and focus on that. So, we’re going to part ways there.”
Beane added that the team was unaware of the allegations against Araiza prior to drafting him in April. He said they found out about the allegations in late July. “At that time, our process, we tried to be thorough and thoughtful. Not rush to judgment, and I would say it’s not easy. You’re trying to put facts around a legal situation, sometimes with limited information. So ultimately that’s where we’re at today with the decision.”
Many people are criticizing the fact that the Bills kept Araiza on its roster nearly a month after the team found out about the allegations.
Others were comparing this situation to that of Deshaun Watson, who has sexual misconduct claims against him by more than two dozen women. In response, the NFL suspended him for 11 games without pay and fined him $5 million.
One thing is for certain, change is needed in the NFL.