Ex-Buffalo Bills’ ‘Punt God’ Could Get 2nd Chance After Charges Dropped
Matt Araiza may be getting a second chance at a prosperous career in the National Football League.
The 23-year old punter is set to be hosted for a workout by the New York Jets, according to The New York Post, the first step in his attempted career resurrection after it was derailed by serious criminal allegations. He has since been exonerated, and and is now set to return to the field in the near future.
Here is the story of how he went from prized prospect, to football pariah, to reclamation project, all in just over a year's time.
Araiza Rises to Notoriety While Playing College Football
Araiza began his career with San Diego State as the team's place-kicker, as opposed to their punter, a job which he earned as a redshirt freshman. It was not until his redshirt junior season that he was named the Aztecs' first-team punter.
He promptly earned midseason All-American honors during his first year as the first-stringer.
After being named a unanimous All-American, the second in program history, Araiza won the Ray Guy Award as the best punter in the nation, and announced that he would be declaring for the NFL Draft.
He was selected by the Bills in the 6th round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Araiza's Pro Career Interrupted by Serious Allegations
Araiza was part of the Bills' immediate plans for success, as after punter Matt Haack was released during training camp, it was all-but-guaranteed that Matt Araiza would be the team's starting punter come Week 1 of the regular season.
That was the thought until August 25, 2022, when news became public that Araiza and two former teammates at San Diego State had been named in a lawsuit. The three players were accused of being part of a gang rape at a San Diego house party, according to The Post.
Araiza was released two days later, and has not been part of an NFL franchise since.
Araiza Exonerated from Charges; Set to Attempt NFL Comeback
Nearly one year later, and Araiza has officially been exonerated. As stated by The New York Post, San Diego prosecutors exonerated Araiza earlier this month, stating video evidence and witness statements indicate he left the party an hour before the alleged incident unfolded.
With that news becoming official, the New York Jets then announced that they would be hosting Araiza for a workout on Wednesday, May 24th, as the team begins their OTAs. It remains to be seen if Matt Araiza will sign with the Jets, or any other team in the league, but for now, it appears as though his second chance at a career is underway.