Team releases college superstar punter after rape allegation, however, fans shouldn't let this be a concern for the upcoming season
BUFFALO, N.Y, (8-28-2022) - In one of the most shocking events of the NFL preseason, the Buffalo Bills released rookie punter Matt Araiza on Saturday, after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in a California civil lawsuit filed Thursday.
The lawsuit accused Araiza and two other San Diego State University players of raping a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party last year, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. Araiza and his lawyer, Kerry L. Armstrong, denied all the allegations with the former releasing a statement saying, "The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
However, despite no current outcome, Bills general manager Brandon Beane decided releasing Araiza was the best thing for all those involved and that what matters most is team culture.
"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 that. So, we’re gonna part ways there," Beane told the press Saturday. "Our culture here is more important than winning football games."
Since joining the Bills organization in 2017, Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have worked on providing a friendly culture in the locker room. They looked on adding players with no huge egos and knew when to turn away despite whatever talent a player had.
In 2019, the Bills almost completed a trade for Pittsburgh Steelers wide reciever Antonio Brown. However, the receiver called it fake news and the Bills pulled out of the trade. Since then Brown had issues both on and off the field and currently serves as a free agent.
Beane and McDermott have dealt with players' misconduct before. In 2018, an ex-girlfirend of then team running back LeSean McCoy accused him of domestic violence. However, no criminal or civil case resulted from it and McCoy played for the team for one more season.
Despite no hard feelings between the Bills and Araiza, the fans showed no restraint in expressing their frustrations about the punter while others praised the team for its handling of alleged misconduct unlike situations in the past.
The Bills selected Araiza in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft and he won the punting job after showing impressive talent in both training camp and preseason games. As for who will fill that spot now, the team planned visits from Michael Palardy, Tyler Newsome, Ty Long, and Joseph Charlton before the final roster is set on Tuesday Aug. 30, per sources.
The Bills open the NFL season against the reging Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Arams on Thursday Night Football. By then the team will have a new punter who will hopefully contribute to the culture and help the team find sucess in 2022.