Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza was released on Saturday, less than two days after a civil lawsuit was filed alleging graphic details of a sexual assault that the accuser said happened last October while Araiza was at San Diego State University. Without that civil lawsuit, it’s pretty clear Araiza would have punted on Friday night and would still be with the team today.
General manager Brandon Beane was asked that question at a delayed press conference on Saturday night and was wishy-washy, but his previous answers gave away his real response.
“We were still digging, so potentially,” said Beane about Araiza still being on the team. “All we were doing was trying to find the facts and until a lawsuit is filed; there was nothing out there other than a potential accusation. There was no criminal case, so that’s what we were doing.”
With the answer, Beane is essentially saying that he would have needed either a civil lawsuit or a criminal charge to go ahead and release Araiza. Without one of those two legal events, the Bills would have had to independently verify at least one of the big claims levied against their sixth-round pick in order to move on. That’s why they released Matt Haack on Monday, because they didn’t have that proof, a charge, or a suit.
Beane, and to a lesser degree head coach Sean McDermott (who had already met the firing squad on Friday night), defended the team’s heel-dragging as “not rushing to judgment” and being “thorough and thoughtful.” When they went from merely accusations to the next level, that’s when the Bills decided it was time to act, despite knowing the majority of the accusations for nearly a month.
“They were accusations. [The lawsuit] just clarified exactly what they were,” said Beane. “And at that point, it’s a real civil case. It’s not a, ‘this may happen’. It’s something that you have to respond to.”
They say releasing him now was in the interest of letting Araiza deal with something that was bigger than football.
You can watch the entire press conference below and read the entire transcript over at The Buffalo News.
- Matt Araiza among 3 SDSU football players accused of gang rape
- Bills release Matt Araiza
- Attorneys on both sides of Araiza gang-rape lawsuit trade public barbs
- Matt Araiza won’t play against Panthers (but did travel with the team)
- Araiza releases first public statement since lawsuit filed in gang-rape case
- Bills’ coach Sean McDermott emotional addressing Matt Araiza gang-rape accusations
- Some teams knew of Araiza allegations before the Draft