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Chiefs Sign Punter Matt Araiza, Potentially Spelling the End for Tommy Townsend's Time in KC: An Analysis

DISCLAIMER/CONTENT WARNING: MENTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT


The Chiefs signed former Buffalo Bills and San Diego State punter Matt Araiza to a deal today, which has brought some controversy in both on and off-the-field dialogue surrounding the situation. This could be a great move, or a very poor move, depending on Araiza's play, behavior, and overall capabilities. Let's have a look as to why.





On-the-Field Implications

Let's start this off by saying that this move, from an on-the-field standpoint, is a big indication that Tommy Townsend is likely not back next year. Townsend is set to become a free agent, and with an agent known for giving the Chiefs grief in Drew Rosenhaus, the prospect of resigning him doesn't look good. Whatever the case, Matt Araiza is a punter, a good one at that. At least, he WAS good until what we'll get into later in this article, he could still certainly have the abilities though if he has kept at his craft. He took a year off from playing to deal with what we'll get into in the next section. With that being said, Araiza can also placekick, hold for kickers, and kick field goals, making him incredibly versatile. Tommy Townsend, mind you, can only punt and hold for kickers. He cannot placekick or kick field goals. IF Townsend were to leave, this could potentially be not a very big loss. Townsend is one of the better punters in the league and a fan favorite, but Araiza was the best punter in college football when he was drafted. He won the Ray Guy Award, was Special Teams Player of the Year, a unanimous 1st-Team All-American, He averaged 51.1 yards/punt and had spectacular direction with his kicks. He even earned the nickname "Punt God" on social media. He scored 246 total points in kicks during his time with the Aztecs and averaged about 73.5% on field goals. Overall, if he can keep up his performance from his college days, this is a fantastic pickup should Tommy Townsend be departing. The key word is should because Townsend will almost certainly keep the job should he stay. The NFL experience and favor of the front office, fans, and coaching alike would determine that.




Off-the-Field Implications


Let's get into why Matt Araiza left in the first place though, or was rather cut and never signed back to a team after his mere preseason-only stint with the Bills. Araiza was the subject of a lawsuit in which a 17-year-old girl was allegedly gang raped by several San Diego State football players, Araiza included. The incident occurred at Araiza's house at the time where he threw a Halloween party in October of 2021. The lawsuit was filed in August of 2022, wherein shortly after the Bills cut Araiza on August 27th. The case against Araiza was dropped however in December of 2023, citing that Araiza was not present at the time of the incident. Araiza declined to countersue for defamation, and here we stand today.


Let me just preface this: Lying about something like this happening to you is not okay. Accusing someone of lying about something like this when it could still turn out to be true, is also not okay. This young woman, as far as we know, did not lie about being assaulted, it's just Araiza was not there. Araiza and his lawyers maintain his innocence, and according to the district attorney on the case, Araiza was not there when the incident occurred. The lawsuit has continued against the 4 other players that she accused, meaning there is still a strong possibility that something happened. Those who are saying this woman lied and that she should be punished for it do not have the full picture and should be ashamed for making such accusations. Believe victims and understand that this goes far deeper than Araiza. You have no right to judge until this lawsuit runs its course. We must do better.


Going back to Araiza though, getting caught up in something like this poses a question on his character. Yes, his name was cleared in a court of law, so he's not a "bad person", relatively speaking, but getting caught up in it still does say something. He's back in the league and will have his shot, but there is still that question of character that will loom over his head for perhaps the rest of his life should he allow it to. It's something he and the Chiefs I know for sure, are aware of, and it's something we as fans should be aware of too. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has surrounded themselves with toxic characters at least once in their life. The only way you beat that cloud that looms over your head regarding those mistakes is to be better and act better. I hope Araiza can do so, because it means more than his NFL career.




Conclusion


This is an addition that could work out very well for the Chiefs. They've trusted guys that have made mistakes in the past before, some have worked out great (Tyreek Hill), others not so much (Kareem Hunt), but the Chiefs keep a tight leash on players. Expect Araiza to get much of the same treatment. Should he screw up, I doubt the Chiefs will show mercy, especially if it turns out his skills have been lost. Nonetheless, this could spell the end of Tommy Townsend's time in KC, which is a shame. He's a great punter and will get a big payday elsewhere should this be the case, but he will always be remembered in Kansas City for helping this team to two Super Bowls, being a gem off the field, and being excellent at his job.


Burn Notice: 8/10 Special teams can make or break a team. Let's hope this doesn't burn the Chiefs.



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