On the NFL's dark side...
After learning of disturbing accusations against their punter, the Buffalo Bills didn't act like a team valuing "culture" above "winning." Sadly, they are not alone.
Welcome to the underworld you were never supposed to see. Watch where you step. It’s nothing but sewage and despair and guilt down here. Incidents like this do not neatly splice into a “Football is Family” promo.
Fans of the National Football League aren’t supposed to know this dimension exists.
But it does. And it’s disturbing. And it cannot be ignored. Once more, the soullessness of the sport was put on public display.
Oh, the Buffalo Bills got around to releasing a player accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old female with two other San Diego State teammates. But, please. Spare me the celebratory, all-cap, emoji-laden tweets. Nobody deserves raucous applause here. GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott only released punter Matt Araiza because they had zero choice. To recap, the Bills had known since late July that they were employing a rookie accused of unspeakably vile behavior. They confirmed as much in a meek joint press conference on Saturday night.
Rather than practice the virtues they preach at One Bills Drive, here’s what happened after this information was acquired.
The Bills conducted what they later labeled a “thorough examination.” This consisted of the team’s assistant general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo chatting with Jane Doe’s attorney at length on the phone. The team never followed up with a second call. They listened to Araiza’s version of events — chose to believe him — and weren’t too concerned with learning more from the accuser. The attorney warned of a civil suit but, hey, training camp was in full swing. Can’t be bothered with such frivolity when there are 7-on-7 drills to conduct.
Coaches declared Araiza the winner of their punting competition in camp, releasing Matt Haack more than a week before the league mandates teams cut their roster to 53 players. This was championed by the team as a signature moment in camp with Araiza and teammates all trotted out to the podium.
Then, there was this scene. If the Bills’ PR department was trying to portray its head coach in a hip light by having him sit down with the most popular sports podcast in America — the “Pardon My Take” gang from Barstool Sports — then… yikes. That decision detonated in their face.