Payments’ declare that they knew nothing of Matt Araiza allegations appears unlikely in context

Contemplating the NFL’s assets and attain, it appears much less and fewer seemingly the Payments have been unware of allegations towards Matt Araiza till this week. 

Contemplating the pre-draft hype round Matt Araiza, the “Punt God” of San Diego State, his fall to the No. 180 decide within the 2022 NFL Draft didn’t match up with expectations.

Particular teamers typically don’t obtain the accolades their offensive and defensive counterparts do in terms of being acknowledged within the recreation. In any case, famed Raiders punter Ray Man, broadly thought of to be the best punter of all time, wasn’t inducted till 2014. This was 28 years after he hung up his NFL cleats. Even Steve Tasker, a Payments particular teamer who made the Professional Bowl seven instances and is the one particular teamer to win Professional Bowl MVP, missed out on his ultimate yr of eligibility.

However particular groups gamers can have a profound impression on the sport, which is what Man proved when he pinned opposing groups to their finish zones and compelled them to trudge over the size of the sphere. Araiza is the one who received the Ray Man Award, was named the MWC Particular Groups Participant of the Yr, and was voted Unanimous All-American in 2021.

Not solely that, however Araiza’s punts have been celebrated over social media as followers watched him punt with the complete expectation that he would go professional. In October 2021, The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman assured soccer followers that “The Punter That Was Promised Has Arrived.”

“San Diego State’s Matt Araiza is having the best punting season in faculty soccer historical past,” Sherman wrote. “He’s additionally redefining how worthwhile punters can actually be.”

That is the way in which Matt Araiza was seen by nearly all of the soccer world till Aug. 25, when the disturbing gang-rape accusations made nationwide headlines and everybody backed away from him. Sherman, who wrote the piece praising Araiza, needs him out of the league instantly.

Media and followers are reeling from a irritating Deshaun Watson suspension that permits him to proceed enjoying soccer as a result of “he’s an incredible soccer participant.” Watson’s fully-guaranteed contract after the Browns mentioned they totally investigated claims towards Watson despatched a transparent message: the Browns didn’t imagine that the NFL would ban Watson for what he did.

Particular person groups and the league at massive has demonstrated again and again over time that until a scandal turns into public, groups might maintain off on chopping a problematic, gifted participant. Roger Goodell didn’t ban Ray Rice for home violence till TMZ leaked video proof, though Janay Rice confirmed that the NFL knew lengthy earlier than. Giants proprietor John Mara confirmed that the crew re-signed kicker Josh Brown after he admitted abusing his spouse, and Brown wasn’t fired till the information turned public.

Contemplating the cultural emphasis on profitable at any value — one which has typically meant not believing or validating the experiences of girls — it appears questionable that the Buffalo Payments, knowledgeable NFL crew with in depth wealth and assets at their disposal, completely didn’t do their due diligence and uncover that their punter of alternative was accused of a violent rape at San Diego State.

What we find out about rape accusations towards Matt Araiza makes it appear unlikely the Payments didn’t know

Let’s contemplate how Araiza has been perceived over the previous yr earlier than these allegations turned public.

Earlier than the 2022 NFL Draft, NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein projected Araiza to go within the third spherical. That’s an extremely excessive projection for a particular groups participant, as punters and kicker typically go within the sixth and seventh rounds in the event that they’re even drafted in any respect.

Zierlein in contrast Araiza to Todd Sauerbrun, an NFL punter who loved a 13-year profession who made three Professional Bowls, was named First-team All-Professional twice, and was the NFL punting yards chief in 2001 and 2002.

“Araiza possesses elite energy and field-flipping potential that might make him the highest-drafted punter since Todd Sauerbrun went 56th general in 1995,” Zierlein wrote this spring.

Zierlein, one of many NFL’s premier scouts, anticipated Araiza to make NFL historical past and be drafted above the 56th decide. Araiza was drafted 124 picks later.

Araiza’s main flaw in his recreation is that his kicks might be a little bit too highly effective, thus leading to wild punts missing the exact management wanted on the skilled degree. However this facet of his recreation didn’t knock his draft inventory, at the very least not with Zierlein.

“Araiza has uncommon energy and may proceed to fine-tune his craft with extra teaching and expertise,” Zierlein wrote. “If he learns to kick with extra constant management, the sky’s the restrict.”

When Araiza initially fell within the draft, his uncontrolled kicks appeared an inexpensive think about his precipitous plummet. However the fall starkly contrasts with what analysts like Zierlein know, which is that kick energy is normally a workable subject. For what Araiza provided, he was nonetheless probably the most gifted potential punter in nearly three many years. Reservations on his capabilities appear unreasonable for NFL groups determined to strike gold within the draft. Zierlein, and just about everybody else scouting faculty gamers, thought of Araiza a positive factor.

Following the draft, CBS Sports activities reporter John Breech referred to as Araiza’s fall an “NFL Draft shocker“, saying that the truth that the Payments “surprisingly” landed him after two different punters have been taken. Not solely was it stunning that Araiza went from a historic second-round prospect to a sixth-round afterthought, however two NFL groups most well-liked different gamers to varsity’s greatest punter in many years.

“Faculty soccer’s ‘Punt God’ surprisingly wasn’t the primary punter taken on this yr’s draft,” Breech wrote.

The Baltimore Ravens chosen Jordan Stout and the Buccaneers took Jake Camarda. Contemplating that these groups wanted expertise on the place sufficient to draft them above No. 180, it’s curious that neither crew chosen Araiza.

Breech added additional context to this uncommon draft order: in 2022, NFL groups have been in additional want of elite punters than they’ve been for years. Or, at the very least, they have been keen to draft punters larger than common.

“You nearly by no means see two punters get taken that early,” Breech wrote. “With Stout going at one hundred and thirtieth general and Camarda going three picks later, this yr marked simply the third time since 1993 that two punters have been taken earlier than the top of the fourth spherical. The one different instances it occurred got here in 1993 and 2007.”

Breech even mentioned that it was unclear on the time why Araiza fell, however there have been a number of theories on the time. “One idea on why he fell is as a result of he’s by no means held for further level or subject objectives,” he wrote. “One different idea is that groups are afraid Araiza would possibly outkick his protection within the NFL.”

These theories have been all folks had on the time to clarify his fall, however contemplating that he was beneath investigation for a rape accusation for a number of months, this appears to be the more likely purpose that Araiza fell.

In 2014, Albert Breer detailed the complicated processes wherein completely different NFL groups vet potential gamers. His article gives perception to a murky panorama: each NFL crew is completely different of their strategies, as is each faculty crew. Nonetheless, Breer clarified that there are strains that aren’t crossed.

“Each membership has its personal strains.

A few of them are widespread. Most groups take a robust stance towards violence towards ladies. Many have an identical boundary when messing round with medication crosses into dealing them, or when drug use goes past marijuana.

What we all know is that, for every membership, the strains exist, and that determining the place a prospect sits with respect to these strains is usually a sophisticated course of. However the strains are clear internally, and normally marked by one expertise or one other.”

Based on Breer, most groups will cross on a participant with a historical past of violence towards ladies, and we all know the Ravens and the Buccaneers conspicously handed on Araiza.

Araiza’s lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, went on tv to debate the case, vehemently denying the allegations towards his shopper. When requested if the Payments knew about Araiza’s allegations earlier than the draft, Armstrong responded, “You’d higher imagine it.”

Dan Gilleon, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, divulged that “Araiza provided us ‘money’ earlier than he made the reduce. We ignored the bush-league provide and filed a case.”

When FanSided’s Amy Kaplan emailed Armstrong for touch upon his statements, this was his response:

“Sure, I’ve corrected data relating to that. I did an interview on Channel 8 San Diego final evening, and the final query the anchor requested me was relating to that subject. I replied one thing to the impact of, “You higher imagine it” (i.e., that Araiza instructed the Payments about these allegations earlier than the draft). I didn’t understand till this morning once I watched it again that I clearly misheard the query. Araiza had no thought of the allegations on the time of the draft in late April of this yr. In actual fact, he didn’t study of them till the primary L.A. Instances article got here out a number of weeks in the past. And that’s when he retained me.It’s my understanding that Araiza then knowledgeable the Payments of those allegations in late July or early August of this yr.”

Armstrong has described the allegations as a “shakedown” of his shopper, though the Los Angeles Instances has verified diary entries by the survivor describing the sexual assault.

The survivor, recognized as “Jane Doe,” additionally filed a police report and underwent a rape examination the day following the assault. The method by which Jane Doe recognized these concerned within the incident was guided by the police division.

Jane Doe has been working with the San Diego Police Division since October 2021 to carry those that sexually assaulted her accountable for his or her violence.

The Buffalo Payments have been definitively conscious for at the very least a month, and so they nonetheless selected Araiza over Matt Haack. Is it so unreasonable to suppose the Payments drafted Araiza figuring out the allegations towards him?