Matt Araiza was drafted as the 180th pick in the sixth round of the 2022 National Football League (NFL) draft. He had previously played football at San Diego State University where he attended for the entirety of his undergraduate degree.
On Thursday, August 25, a civil lawsuit was filed against Araiza and two of his former teammates from San Diego State for gang-raping a minor. This alleged rape happened at an off-campus Halloween party, held at Araiza’s residence, on Sunday, October 17, 2021. All three men are accused of gender violence, rape, and false imprisonment.
On that prior Monday, August 22, the Buffalo Bills released all their punters, including veteran punter, Matt Haack. This left Araiza as the lone punter on the Bills roster. At their final preseason game on Friday, August 26, the Bills decided to bench Araiza, considering the allegations. This led to third-string quarterback, Matt Barkley filling in as punter for the entirety of the game.
After Araiza was released, the Bills scrambled to find a new punter before the start of the 2022 season on September 8. They signed the previous Denver Broncos punter, Sam Martin, to a one-year deal four days after the release of Araiza, on August 31.
During a news conference on Saturday, August 27, after Araiza was released, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said, “This is bigger than football … Let’s just step back and [let Araiza] go handle this. That’s what we thought was most important.”
When asked if he thought the status of Araiza had any effect on the Bills decision, he said, “Probably. If he was more established in the team and league, the team might’ve waited to see the results of the lawsuit before they made a final decision.”
Araiza is denying these accusations, but this is still an ongoing lawsuit and investigation.