Bills replace ‘Punt God’ Matt Araiza with unlikely player in game vs. Panthers
Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza, also known as the “Punt God,” did not participate in the team’s final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday after he was accused of gang-raping an underage girl at an off-campus party at San Diego State in 2021.
With Araiza out, the Bills did not have another punter on the roster after the “Punt God” beat out Matt Haack for the starting spot. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills replaced Araiza with an odd name: Matt Barkley, the franchise’s backup quarterback to Josh Allen.
Barkley was seen warming up as the team’s punter before the game.
The former USC Trojan quarterback has appeared in 19 games as a quarterback, but this is his first appearance as a punter.
Araiza, who made the trip with the Bills for their final preseason game, did not appear on the sidelines before the tilt.
The former Aztecs punter, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.
“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Araiza’s attorney Kerry Armstrong said, via the Los Angeles Times. “There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza ever raped that girl.”
The Bills released a statement on Thursday, saying the franchise was “recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point.”
Araiza is not subject to NFL discipline as the punter was not in the league yet.