The Buffalo Bills have released rookie punter Matt Araiza after he was accused of being part of a gang rape of a 17-year-old girl while in college in 2021.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane made the announcement during a press conference on Saturday.
“We just think it’s the best move for everyone to move on from Matt (Araiza) and let him take care of this situation and focus that,” Beane said.
GM Brandon Beane: This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do. Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games. pic.twitter.com/soHPcePFxz
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 28, 2022
“Her representative spoke to Kathryn (D’Angelo) and laid out some of the things that they were accusing Matt (Araiza) and others of,” Beane added. “At that time, our process, we tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment. I would say it’s not easy, you’re trying to put facts around a legal situation, sometimes with limited information, and so ultimately that’s where we’re at today with a decision.”
Beane explained that the Bills and other NFL teams considering Araiza ahead of the 2022 NFL draft were unaware of the allegations at the time. The team was first made aware of the concerns just last month.
Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott also answered questions from reporters during the press conference. When asked about his message to women regarding the allegation, he was straightforward about the seriousness of the accusations against Araiza.
“This is a game, but there are other things that are more important than this,” McDermott answered.
“This is a game, but there are other things that are more important than this.” pic.twitter.com/Me6ybkRfzD
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 27, 2022
The punter did not play in the team’s preseason game on Friday ahead of the announcement.
Araiza’s attorney Kerry Armstrong told ESPN in a statement, “I am sure he is very upset and disappointed that his career with the Bills ended not because he played poorly, but because of false allegations leveled against him by a young lady and her attorney. I hope he is back in the NFL soon.”
Araiza is one of three men accused in the lawsuit that allegedly occurred when the punter played at San Diego State University. He was known as the “punt god” for his booming long-distance kicks.
The legal action claims the then 17-year-old high school senior was in and out of consciousness but remembers being assaulted outside of a home at a party and then brought inside where she was raped by other men.
Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko were the other two men named in the lawsuit. Leonard is listed on the San Diego State football roster as a freshman, while Ewalisko was on the team last year but is not on this season’s roster, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The report also noted the anonymous student reported the rape shortly after the alleged incident. She spoke out concerning the issue last month, with the lawsuit formally filed in San Diego County Superior Court on Thursday.