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Super Bowl champion Chiefs sign punter Matt Araiza after female dropped rape suit against him; accusation cost him 2 seasons
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Super Bowl champion Chiefs sign punter Matt Araiza after female dropped rape suit against him; accusation cost him 2 seasons

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have signed punter Matt Araiza after a female dropped a rape lawsuit against him in December. The Buffalo Bills cut Araiza days after the suit was filed in August 2022 — his rookie season — and he's been out of the NFL ever since. He's always maintained his innocence.

"I am proud and honored to sign a contract with the @Chiefs," Araiza said in a statement released through his agent, ESPN reported. "I am thrilled to be able to continue my NFL career. I want to thank my family, who have been my rock and my many friends who have been unwavering in their support. I am excited to begin the next phase of my career with the Super Bowl Champs!"

Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, ESPN said, adding that Townsend was a first-team All-Pro and chosen for the 2022 Pro Bowl.

What's the background?

Araiza was nicknamed “the Punt God” at San Diego State, where he averaged 51.19 yards per punt during the 2021 college season, an NCAA single-season record, the Buffalo News said, adding that he won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best college punter.

Araiza appeared to have won the punting job during the Buffalo Bills' 2022 training camp, but the team cut him two days after the rape accusation. Araiza had signed a four-year contract with the Bills that would have been worth $3.8 million had he played all four years of the deal, the Buffalo News said. Araiza ended up missing the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The San Diego District Attorney's Office concluded that Araiza could not have been part of the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old in October 2021 because he left the off-campus party at least an hour before the incident allegedly occurred. While Araiza said he and his accuser had consensual sex outside the house earlier in the evening, he said he never entered the home, ESPN noted, adding that the district attorney's office couldn't prove Araiza knew the accuser's age or intoxication level. Prosectors announced in December 2022 that they wouldn't press any criminal charges against Araiza. San Diego State University said in May there were no findings against Araiza after investigating allegations of rape and gang rape, ESPN also said.

In conjunction with his accuser — called Jane Doe — dropping her lawsuit against him, Araiza agreed to dismiss a defamation suit against her filed in July 2023, ESPN said in a separate report.

Araiza's lawyers, Dick Semerdjian and Kristen Bush, said in a statement that Araiza always has maintained his innocence and that he will never get back the time spent defending himself from the accusations, ESPN added.

"Thankfully, there was extensive evidence that was key to securing Matt's voluntary dismissal from this lawsuit," the statement said, according to ESPN. "Matt was and has always been innocent. The case is over, and Matt has prevailed."

Bills took different approach with different player

About a week before the rape lawsuit against Araiza was dismissed, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said linebacker Von Miller — accused of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend — was available to play in a game against the Chiefs while the legal process proceeded.

"We only have so many of the facts," Beane said in a press conference in regard to Miller. "If you look around this country, you see plenty of rushes to judgment. ... We're just trying to do the right thing."

In regard to the Bills releasing Araiza days after the rape accusation, Beane at the time said it “was the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation," the Buffalo News reported.

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Dave Urbanski

Dave Urbanski

Sr. Editor, News

Dave Urbanski is a senior editor for Blaze News and has been writing for Blaze News since 2013. He has also been a newspaper reporter, a magazine editor, and a book editor. He resides in New Jersey. You can reach him at durbanski@blazemedia.com.
@DaveVUrbanski →