The Buffalo Bills spend a lot of time explaining how much they believe in personal character, and when they research the players they want to draft or sign in free agency, it’s theirs. How important is it?

“Culture” is a big word for coach Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, on almost equal footing, it sometimes sounds like the word “winning.”

But Cheating punter Matt Ariza faces the charge. A civil lawsuit filed Thursday in Southern California, alleging he was involved in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl in October 2021, casts a dark shadow over the organization.


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There’s still a long way to go before anything is decided in the case — after all, Ariza and two of his former San Diego State teammates named in the lawsuit have yet to be charged with a crime. has been installed.

However, according to the lawsuit, Ariza has already pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor, and it will be too difficult for the Bills to ignore that.


“His confession was something that, when I started reading about this case, jumped out,” Dallas-based attorney Michelle Simpson Teugle told the Democrat and Chronicle on Friday afternoon. “I was like, ‘Wow,’ because I handle a lot of cases where we don’t have what I would consider bomb evidence.”

A day after the alleged incident at an off-campus Halloween party at Ariza’s home, the plaintiff (whose name has not been released) reported it to the San Diego Police Department, which launched an investigation.


In his lawsuit, he claims that detectives from the Sex Crimes Unit arranged for him to make phone calls to the three players he said were involved. In a call to Ariza, he admits to having sex with her and says she should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Later in the call, detectives pointed out, he asked Ariza point-blank if they had sex, and she changed course and said, “This is Matt Ariza. I don’t remember anything about that night.” what happened.” And then he hung up. The calls were recorded.

Simpson Teugle, a former criminal defense attorney who now specializes in victims’ rights cases and has represented survivors in some of the biggest sexual assault cases of the past decade, including U.S. gymnasts with Larry Nassar. had been abused, said that the statement of the petitioner was condemnable.

“This initial admission, it’s not legal,” Simpson-Teugle said. “And when you put on top of that, the alcohol, the heavy intoxication, what appears to be some well-documented and violent physical injuries that this minor woman suffered, when you’re faced with that level of evidence. So that’s a really tough statement.”

When news of the lawsuit, first broken by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Bills offered this blunt statement:

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint related to Met from October 2021. Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we have thoroughly investigated the matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we are currently Will not comment further.

“Recently informed” appears on July 31, the day the plaintiff’s attorney, Dan Galion, sent an email to the Bulls informing them of the allegations and Ariza, Xavier Leonard (who is still at San Diego State). was informed of impending civil litigation against team) and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko (who is no longer on the team).

At least on the surface, the Bulls are trying to convince us that they didn’t know about the alleged incident when they used a sixth-round draft pick named Punter four months ago.

However, Simpson-Teugle says it seems implausible that the Bulls only learned of the situation on July 31, given that he and all NFL teams generally investigate potential new players.

Teams don’t just watch game film, do physicals, and refer to medical records. They interview most or in some cases all the players they select (either in person, by phone or, these days, Zoom), and they also delve into their backgrounds away from the football field. Dive.

Rarely is a stone left unturned, and this certainly looks like a likely stone that was left alone.

“It’s pretty clear that a significant number of athletes at the university knew about this gang rape, and some of the original reporters and information that came to the school were players outside of the football team who talked to the university about it. were,” said Simpson Teugle.

“If the Buffalo Bills were doing a thorough examination of what they claim they do now about the athletes, their histories and their backgrounds and their disciplinary practices and all the things they’re saying. are that they are now trying to vet and stop players who have had such problems joining their teams, I struggle to believe that, to a large extent (that they be deprived).

Punter Matt Ariza sends a downfield during the opening day of Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Rochester.

Punter Matt Ariza sends a downfield during the opening day of Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Rochester.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Ariza’s name first surfaced in connection with the alleged rape through an anonymous San Diego State campus reporting system.

On October 26, 2021, San Diego State received the first of several submissions from individuals with third-hand information about alleged off-campus sexual assault. The university complied with the San Diego Police Department’s request that it not open its own investigation and provide information to assist the SDPD’s investigation, which it did.

One student was quoted as saying on October 26, “I hope it’s not true for Matt’s sake. But if it is true, I hope he gets the consequences he deserves and () The girl will get justice.

Again, how could the Bills not know about this? If this information was out there – the Los Angeles Times found it – surely the team’s investigators would have found it, wouldn’t you think?

However, we know that Gillian was aware of this when he sent his email, and yet he continued to not only hold a training camp punting contest between Ariza and Matt Heck, but Ariza earlier this week. declared the winner and cut the hack.

We can assume that Bill is behind the plea at this point since he has not been formally charged with any crime. Apparently, their plan is to let the case move forward until the San Diego District Attorney’s Office decides whether to charge him and the other players.

They will then have these options: They can drop the petition and sign another punter. They can fine and/or suspend him. Or they could do nothing until at some point either the case was settled out of court, or he was proven guilty or innocent in a trial.

Based on what he’s read in the lawsuit, “I think it’s enough for them to charge him with a crime,” Simpson-Teugle said. “As a criminal defense attorney or as an attorney who represents victims now and has for years, I would say that this is a confession and a difficult statement for him. He entered and he less Age. I don’t know how you know these facts. It’s a real problem.”

As for the NFL, it has no say in the matter because the alleged incident occurred before Ariza entered the league and thus is not subject to the league’s personal conduct policy, which reads :

“This policy is issued pursuant to the commissioner’s authority under the constitution and bylaws, the collective bargaining agreement and the NFL player contract to define, address and sanction conduct detrimental to the league and professional football. The following terms apply to players under contract. All rookie players selected in the NFL College Draft; All undrafted rookie players following the NFL College Draft; All draft-eligible players who participate in the Scouting Combine. All Unsigned veterans who were under contract in the first league year; and all other potential players once they have entered into employment negotiations with a club.

Sal Maiorana can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. To subscribe to Bull’s Blast, the new bi-weekly newsletter of the year, please follow this link:

This article originally appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Matt Ariza Rap Accused Buffalo Bills Punter Pleads Guilty