Buffalo Bills made right decision releasing Matt Araiza, but serious questions remain


The Buffalo Bills launched rookie punter Matt Araiza on Saturday night time. At worst, the allegation contained in a civil lawsuit filed Thursday that Araiza, a former San Diego State star, participated within the gang rape of a 17-year-old final October is confirmed true and there will likely be many questions about how the college, the San Diego police and people who are purported to vet gamers within the NFL let Araiza go unscathed for 10 months. At finest, Araiza was the cliché each crew hopes to keep away from because the season is about to start out: a devastating distraction. The Bills couldn’t afford to place up with even the best-case situation.

There is sort of definitely way more to be realized in regards to the Bills’ response to Araiza — about what they knew of the alleged incident, about how deeply they pursued solutions, about whom they relied on for his or her info and investigation. NFL franchises usually are not investigative our bodies — as Buffalo common supervisor Brandon Beane famous throughout a information convention Saturday asserting the transfer, groups haven’t got the means to tug all of the details collectively — but previous circumstances inform us that groups typically search solutions from individuals who will inform them what they wish to hear.

Maybe the Bills tried more durable than that. By their very own account, they first realized of the allegation in “late July” — a couple of month in the past — when the alleged sufferer’s legal professional spoke to one of many crew’s attorneys. The Bills say they started the method of wanting into the state of affairs then and tried to not rush to judgment. They initially made no transfer to distance themselves from Araiza; he practiced and performed within the first two preseason video games, incomes widespread approval for an 82-yard punt in Buffalo’s preseason opener and changing into the crew’s beginning punter after the discharge of veteran Matt Haack on Monday. Then the allegation hit the headlines on Thursday, when the lawsuit was filed and the Los Angeles Times wrote about it. Araiza traveled with the crew to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, for Buffalo’s preseason finale towards the Panthers on Friday night time but in the end didn’t play within the recreation, with Bills coach Sean McDermott saying in his postgame information convention that it was his decision: “At the end of the day, I didn’t feel it was right to do that.” On Saturday, Beane mentioned Araiza’s model of occasions was totally different than the one the Bills acquired from the accuser’s legal professional, including that the crew nonetheless had not pieced every little thing collectively.

Still, whether or not it was new info or public outrage that knowledgeable their decision, the Bills did the right factor in releasing Araiza. That alone, given the offseason of Deshaun Watson, is a pleasant change of tempo. It was additionally the simple decision. Araiza definitely has the right to defend himself, and the Bills have the right to guard their franchise from a disturbing accusation. But boil this all the way down to soccer math, which is in the end essentially the most cynical but additionally most vital calculus within the NFL: Araiza is a punter — and whereas he is excellent at punting, he’s additionally a rookie, a sixth-round draft decide, with no monitor report of NFL success and with out an unlimited contract the Bills should pay.

The Cleveland Browns deserve all of the scorn they’ve acquired for his or her embrace of Watson. As a strictly soccer matter, although, having a franchise quarterback with a variety of ethical baggage remains to be — to the Browns, no less than — having a franchise quarterback, which is most undoubtedly not the identical as having a punter. It’s nothing to have a good time, but prefer it or not, professional sports activities groups — like all companies — often contort themselves to accommodate their most important workers.

The Bills are sturdy Super Bowl contenders this season. To invite the tumult and distraction Araiza would have dropped at Buffalo as this lawsuit performs out would have been ludicrous. One have a look at Beane and McDermott within the final two days tells you ways a lot of their emotional and mental vitality was exhausted on Araiza’s state of affairs. That just isn’t the place a crew desires its management spending its time with the season about to start.

The backside line on Araiza is that even the very best punter just isn’t very important sufficient for a crew to hope everybody will ultimately neglect a hideous allegation. He is, merely put, replaceable.

Beane mentioned Saturday night time that the Bills’ tradition is extra vital than successful video games. That may very properly be true. And the scales may tip extra dramatically towards tradition as a result of punters hardly ever instantly win video games anyway.

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