Matt Araiza, the now former Buffalo Bill, said he will not settle a civil suit for $50,000 as he tries to clear his name and get back to the NFL.
A young woman accused Araiza and several other San Diego State football players of gang raping her in October, 2021, at a house party. She was 17 at the time of the alleged incident. She also filed a civil suit, seeking unspecified damages. Prosecutors in San Diego, however, declined to press charges against Araiza, determining he’d already left the party before any alleged gang rape happened.
Matt Araiza now wants to play in the NFL again. He was the best college punter in the country in the fall of 2021. He even broke an NCAA record, averaging more than 51 yards per punt. The Bills selected him in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. But days after the woman filed a civil suit last summer, Buffalo released Araiza.
Matt Araiza’s team sent prosecutor’s audio to 20 NFL teams
The main prosecutor met with the young woman and her lawyer last December to explain why her office wasn’t pressing charges. The meeting, which lasted 101 minutes, was recorded, although neither side made it public. Matt Araiza now is sending sections of the audio to NFL teams in an attempt to prove he did nothing wrong and deserved another chance in the league. No team has signed him.
“I know the teams know the true facts,” Matt Araiza told USA TODAY. “They’ve heard the audio. They know this isn’t true. It’s that we need the public to understand as well. Because I think teams have a fear that if they sign me, there will be a little bit of backlash because the public has been told things that aren’t true.”
Araiza says settling civil suit is admitting guilt
It’s part of the reason why he won’t settle the civil suit. He could do so for $50,000.
“Settling is admitting guilt,” he told USA TODAY. “That’s not the truth. That’s not what happened.”
Joe Linta, his agent, added: “We didn’t think that these teams would be as discriminatory as they are. I never thought in a million years that once he was cleared and proved that he did nothing wrong that teams would still be ignorant. That’s really what it is: ignorance.”
Obviously, Matt Araiza still wants to punt in the NFL. But he also said he could go to his career backup plan, which is to work in the software industry. He said he finds himself in an odd space. Araiza said a female family member is a sexual assault survivor. And now he finds himself accused of something similar, but he contends is a false charge.
“There was a time in this country and in the world where a woman would come forward and no one would believe them, and that’s not right,” Matt Araiza told USA TODAY. “But the pendulum has swung to the other end. And it feels like it’s instantly believed, and I don’t think that’s right, either.
“So having gone through both ends of the evil spectrum, that’s been tough. Yeah, it’s been really hard on my family. That’s what’s hurt me the most, for sure.”