Sean McDermott Declines to Comment on Matt Araiza's Bills Future Ahead of Roster Cuts

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 27, 2022

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Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott declined to comment on whether starting punter Matt Araiza will make the team ahead of the final round of roster cuts before the regular season.

McDermott addressed the situation following Buffalo's 21-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers in its preseason finale:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bills?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bills</a> coach Sean McDermott repeatedly said the team has “more work to do” on the Matt Araiza allegations, to “find the truth to the best of my ability and do the right thing.” He wouldn’t speculate on whether Araiza would be on the roster after final cuts next week. <a href="https://t.co/pHOizOUEdZ">https://t.co/pHOizOUEdZ</a>

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Bills coach Sean McDermott on the Matt Araiza situation: “We have work to do. … It’s something that I and we take very seriously. That’s where we’re at.”<br><br>McDermott looks pretty shaken here. <a href="https://t.co/cwcts45aWs">https://t.co/cwcts45aWs</a>

The Los Angeles Times' Colleen Shalby and Robert J. Lopez reported Thursday that Araiza was named in a civil lawsuit filed by a woman accusing three former and current San Diego State football players of raping her when she was 17 years old.

Araiza issued a statement Friday: "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."

Per Shalby and Lopez, the lawsuit says Araiza had sex with the plaintiff outside of an off-campus residence where they were partying and then "[brought] her inside to a room where she was repeatedly raped":

"According to the lawsuit, the teen told Araiza she was a high school student and, even though he could see she was highly intoxicated, he told her to perform oral sex, then had sex with her. Then Araiza took her to a bedroom where [Zavier Leonard], [Nowlin "Pa’a" Ewaliko] and at least one other man were, the complaint alleged, and threw her down on the bed face first. The lawsuit said she was raped for an hour and a half until the party was shut down."

Kerry Armstrong, an attorney for Araiza, described the lawsuit as a "shakedown" with the 22-year-old embarking on a potentially lucrative NFL career.

San Diego State University provided a timeline of events surrounding the allegations. The San Diego Police Department was first alerted to a possible off-campus sexual assault on Oct. 18, 2021. The university was notified as well, with its Title IX office beginning its own inquiry one day later.

By Oct. 28, San Diego police wrote to SDSU "requesting that the university temporarily delay its administrative investigation to ensure that the criminal case was not compromised."

Along with the questions over how the SDPD and SDSU police investigated the allegations, many wondered the extent to which the Bills were aware of the details before the L.A. Times report.

"We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021," the team said Thursday. "Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point."

The attorney for the woman, Dan Gilleon, told The Athletic's Tim Graham his client wasn't contacted by the Bills as part of their investigation. Gilleon said he sent an introductory email to the team July 31 and had a phone conversation with Bills assistant general counsel Kathryn D'Angelo the following day but didn't receive further response:

Tim Graham @ByTimGraham

Gilleon adds his initial contact with the Bills was a long phone call with the team's assistant general counsel, Kathryn D'Angelo, but Bills never asked anything more or wanted to speak with his client.

Araiza was poised to open the regular season as the starting punter after Buffalo cut Matt Haack. After the allegations became public, though, he was held out of Friday's game.


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