“Punt God” Resurrected With New NFL Team After Cleared of College Wrongdoing

The “punt god” is resurrected!

Matt Araiza, the star college punter that was cut by the Buffalo Bills before training camp for rape allegations in college that he was recently cleared of, has been granted a second chance and is working out for the New York Jets.

Araiza, a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, was cut by the Bills from a four-year, $3.8 million contract without even making a punt a week after a 17-year-old high school senior sued him and two San Diego State teammates. It is exceedingly rare for punters to even get drafted, and Araiza had a prolific professional career ahead of him. It was taken away, but now, he may once again have his shot.

The star punter was cleared after investigators determined he wasn’t even at the party in question when the alleged incident took place.

Check this out from Outkick.com:

The transcript of a meeting between the accuser and prosecutors was brought to light just over two weeks ago in which investigators explained that they do not believe Araiza was present at the time of the alleged assault.

Prosecutors in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges, but Araiza is still facing a civil suit that he has no plans of settling anytime soon.

Despite the fact that there was little to no evidence to tie him to the alleged crime, the Bills still wasted no time jettisoning Araiza before he played an NFL snap. However, the punter doesn’t hold any ill-will toward the team.

“I hold nothing against the Buffalo Bills, I wish things were handled differently,” Araiza continued. “But they did treat me with respect, which I appreciate. It’s just the climate of how things are now. Accusations bring so much hate to anyone who stands by the accuser that they were kind of forced to cut me from the team.”

The circumstances surrounding the alleged attack were never clear. Much of it was he-said, she-said, and the recollections of the alleged victim, who was under the influence that evening. According to the New York Post:

Documents unsealed this week revealed that prosecutors had concluded from 101 minutes of recordings, including sex tapes made by the other two players, that Araiza — dubbed college football’s best punter in his unanimous All-American junior season — wasn’t even at the party during the alleged attack.

Prosecutors in San Diego announced in December that no rape charges would be filed against Araiza, now 22, and his former Aztecs teammates.

The video evidence led them to conclude the encounters between Leonard, Ewaliko and the 17-year-old were not clearly forcible.

Since being released, Araiza has been home with his parents, fighting the charges, staying in shape and hoping for another shot once the truth came out. Now it has. He told the New York Post:

“I was happy that there was so much evidence and that this wasn’t a ‘he-said, she-said’ thing,” Araiza, who had always acknowledged having a consensual encounter with the girl outside but denied being part of a violent attack, told The Post.

“A lot of cases like this are and it’s up to a jury kind of guessing. I mean, if there’s no evidence either way, it’s somewhat a guess. I’m grateful that’s not the case in this one.”

While Araiza is still being sued in a civil court, he has no plans to settle now that he has been cleared.

Araiza is still being sued by the alleged victim, who offered to settle for $50,000 — an offer he rejected, saying he would consider countersuing her and definitely plans to sue her attorney.

“I’m not willing to pay money to people who damaged my life irreversibly,” Araiza said. “It’s just not something I’m willing to do. But I will never waive my right to sue her attorney — ever. That lawsuit is coming.”

Since the Jets have come calling, and Araiza got a workout for the team, if he performed well and doesn’t get an offer, he now has tape available to the remaining teams. Considering the specialty nature of his position, and his age and prowess, it’s inevitable that someone will sign him.

For now he is just relieved that his name has been cleared, the truth is known, and he can go on with his life.


Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.

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