Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza was at the stadium for the team’s preseason finale on Friday night, but he didn’t arrive in a Bills logo, his name wasn’t above his locker, he didn’t dress for the game, and he wasn’t on the sideline. Instead, he released a statement to the press via his agent during the game regarding the civil lawsuit filed against him.
Content warning: this story contains details of rape and sexual violence.
On Thursday, an 18-year-old woman accused Araiza and at least two of his former San Diego State University football teammates of drugging and gang-raping her in October of 2021 when she was 17. Araiza’s lawyer went on local television Thursday night denying the allegations, leading to public arguments with the accuser's lawyer.
Before the end of the Bills-Panthers game, when head coach Sean McDermott would be peppered with questions regarding the situation at his postgame presser, Araiza preemptively released a statement, relayed to the media by his agent, Joe Linta.
“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.”
Tim Graham of The Athletic, who claims to have worked with Linta over the years, said he’s been trying to reach the agent for nearly 24 hours before the statement was released.
McDermott’s postgame comments were tight-lipped but apologetic and reserved. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.
Araiza is the only punter left on Buffalo’s roster following the release of Matt Haack earlier this week, several weeks after the Bills’ organization first heard of these allegations. Haack signed with the Indianapolis Colts.