By Ron Johnson
Back in August of 2022, newly drafted punter Matt Araiza was a named defendant in a civil lawsuit that stated that he took part in a brutal gang rape of a 17-year-old at a party the year prior at San Diego State. Despite denying any wrongdoing and admitting that he had consensual sex with a woman he believed was 18 at the time at that same party, the Buffalo Bills, the team that drafted him, cut him.
Here we are, 16 months later, and this past Tuesday, the accuser withdrew her civil suit against him.
So Araiza doesn’t face any charges, criminally or civilly, at this time. The crazy part is that the only caveat that Matt had to do was pull his own defamation lawsuit against the woman. Sorry, but does this punter think he has the swagger of Pat McAfee? Now most of us have been to college and know what happens on college campuses. After visiting Colorado, Colorado State, Mesa State College, USC and even SUNY-Brockport, I know what happens on these campuses. In a case of S&M (aka sex and mockery) it always comes down to he said-she said no matter the circumstances.
NO one knows what happened at that college party at San Diego State, and no one is saying anything about it either. However, Araiza has a tough climb to get back the reputation he once had, and he’s eyeing to finally be able to start his NFL career again.
This sounds great and all, but if this punter is invited back to the NFL, where’s a certain quarterback’s invite?
Araiza had to swim through the filth of the Special Victims Unit, while Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality by taking a knee through the National Anthem, a tradition that still remains in the NFL to this day.
Yet, Kaep was given garbage contract offers despite impressing all 32 teams in his time away with his playing style. But rather even give him a second look, they would rather rely on craptastic, second-rate, garbage backups who should have never been given a job in the NFL to begin with.
There are those who said that Kaep was never good enough to be a quarterback in the NFL, yet they are not seeing the bigger picture when it comes down to it. Having a polarizing figure on your team can have its drawbacks, but it can also have its good moments as well. If you don’t believe that, look at Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Josh Dobbs, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and the most controversial diva of the circuit, Aaron Rodgers.
Despite what many have said, Kaep has been to the mountaintop. Despite losing his only Super Bowl appearance, he has been there. We can’t say the same for dream weavers like Dak, Josh, Deshaun or even Lamar.
Speaking of Deshaun, he had to go through hell to get his credibility back after demanding to be released from Houston. Several controversial he said-she said moments came out AFTER he wanted out, and when he signed with Cleveland, he had to fight to clean up his reputation. Clearly, it has worked as the city and its fanbase have embraced Watson’s testicular fortitude to keep the Browns in playoff contention today.
So the NFL is ok with players doing bad things, just as long as its not protesting for equal rights during the anthem?
Von Miller was just arrested for beating up his pregnant girlfriend in Dallas, yet he was dressed and was playing last weekend against Kansas City. Yet, the No Fun League was quick to penalize and fine Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes for disrespecting the officials because they sucked at their job on Sunday?
Yeah, I’ll say it: The NFL’s officiating crew deserved Bottlegate and every Bottlegate from here on out if they continue to drop the ball.
You won’t get sympathy out of me for these officials, so don’t even try.
But what it comes down to is this. If Matt Araiza is given the opportunity to keep launching kicks 82 yards, then Colin Kaepernick deserves to be given a legit and fair opportunity to perform on the field as well. If the NFL is truly trying to fix its reputation with players as well as fans, one of those ways is to practice what they preach.
While there are those who firmly believe that Araiza deserves and Kaep doesn’t, those are the same ones that still believe that teams like Buffalo and Dallas should’ve won the Super Bowl at least twice by now. If Matt is allowed to return to the NFL despite what happened in order to reclaim the reputation lost, then Kaep should be allowed to return as well and possibly save a franchise from its own mediocrity and shortcomings.