Content warning: This article references sexual assault.
Following news this week that civil sexual assault allegations were dropped against former Buffalo Bills and San Diego State University (SDSU) punter Matt Araiza, the NFL hopeful made his first comments to the press. Araiza was accused of the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl at a house party near the campus of SDSU in October 2021.
As reported by Danielle Dawson and Zara Baker of WIVB News 4 Buffalo, 23-year-old Araiza specifically mentioned that some members of the Bills’ organization have maintained a line of communication with him throughout the process.
“(P)layers and people from the Bills organization have checked on him frequently over the last year, and still do.”
While noting One Bills Drive has been in contact with him these last 18 months, Araiza did criticize professional sports teams in their handling of sexual misconduct allegations.
“Professional sports teams, as well as college teams, should have the backbone to say, ‘Look we take these allegations seriously, but until allegations are proven, we can’t cut our guy. We can’t push somebody out who’s worked their whole life to be here.’”
The NFL (but not individual teams) has the ability to place accused players on the Commissioner’s Exempt list. They are not part of the active roster but still are paid while the legal process runs its course. The Buffalo Bills released Araiza.
New: Matt Araiza, in his first comments since being dropped from the rape lawsuit, said players and people from the #Bills organization checked on him frequently over the last year.— Nick Veronica (@NickVeronica) December 13, 2023
Araiza has continued training and says he's ready for an NFL opportunity. https://t.co/MWLlNWEYF4
Per the article at WIVB, Araiza’s agent — Joe Linta — has confirmed that “NFL teams have been calling him” since the civil lawsuit was dropped earlier this week.
What Araiza’s future holds, including as an NFL athlete, remains uncertain. Through the entire legal process, Araiza has maintained a workout regimen, and he remains confident that he’ll resume his professional career at some point. Araiza is ready to put the last year and a half behind him, and ready for what’s next:
“When I was cut, I was an NFL starter, had just beat out an NFL veteran. I was on a 4-year contract and that wont be handed back to me. No one in the NFL is going to go, ‘Here’s the job that you once had,’ so working to regain where I was at is my primary goal right now” ... “I’m confident that I will be able to regain my NFL career — whenever that is. I believe it’s more of a when, not an if.”