Analysis: “Thorough examination” of the bills has clearly failed | Sports

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A ‘thorough review’ by the Buffalo Bills into the gang rape allegations against punter Matt Araiza has failed because coach Sean McDermott only learned more important details after a civil lawsuit was filed against the recruit.

Now the Bills are under fire for staying with a player facing serious charges.

The criticism is deserved.

Thanks to a dynamic offense led by Josh Allen and a solid defense, the Bills enter the season as favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to bettors. They don’t need a sixth-round pick — even a “Punt God” — to make a difference in January and February.

After suspending Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson 11 games for sexual misconduct, the NFL is concerned about public perception and commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear the league will not tolerate any violence against women.

But the NFL has limits in this case because the incident happened while Araiza was in college, so he cannot be punished under the personal conduct policy. The league always lets the legal process happen first.

“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said in a statement released by his agent, Joe Linta. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”

A San Diego police investigation has been assigned to the district attorney’s office to determine whether to proceed with the prosecution. DA spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said Friday there was no timeline as to how long a decision will take.

Still, the NFL could — and should — try to influence Buffalo’s decision in order to “protect the shield.”

Araiza was not in training on Saturday, but was officially still on the roster.

Araiza, who led San Diego State to a record-breaking season and two of his former Aztecs teammates, were charged with gang-raping a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party last fall. The California teenager’s attorney told The Associated Press on Friday that Bills did not contact him for details.

Obviously, the team’s investigation was not over.

“We have work to do,” McDermott said Friday night.

McDermott said he got new information after the lawsuit was released.

“Again, this is not a situation we take lightly,” he added. “I’m hurt, I understand that (the fans) are hurt. And it’s emotional. It’s not easy to hear about some of the things I’ve heard about over the past few hours.

The Bills also didn’t do their homework before the draft.

A person familiar with the situation told the AP that the Bills were unaware of the allegations against Araiza until the April draft.

Several other team leaders also told the AP they were unaware. But executives from two different teams told the AP they learned of Araiza’s involvement in an incident during the drafting process. Neither person knew the full extent of the allegations and both people said it did not affect Araiza’s status on their selection boards as they were not interested in the punter’s selection.

All of the people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

NFL teams usually research players extensively before the draft, especially the players they plan to select in the early rounds. It’s not uncommon for someone with a potential red flag to slip into the draft.

Although he won the Ray Guy award as the nation’s best bettor in college football, Araiza was not the first of four bettors drafted. Penn State’s Jordan Stout was selected in the fourth round at 130 overall by the Ravens, and Georgia’s Jake Camarda was picked by the Buccaneers three picks later.

Some clubs, of course, do a better job researching players and uncovering character questions. The Bills fell well short of their assessment of Araiza, who was chosen with the 180th pick.

Araiza is innocent until proven guilty, but it’s not too late to right a mistake.


AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed to this report.


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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