Matt Araiza can’t get his year back. That’s on top of trying to recover his reputation. His alibi of not being where a crime was alleged to occur is what legal experts would call fairly strong. The public opinion trial should reflect the outcome.
Putting toothpaste back in the tube isn’t as easy as advertised. It might be the only feat more difficult than getting a booted ball to stop before the goal line. There won’t be nearly as much coverage retracting incorrect descriptions of behavior. Correcting the record will have to continue indefinitely.
There’s a far more serious version of outpacing facts than projections about athletic performance. Like pondering how draftees will do as pros without any snaps to confirm, we don’t know anything until there’s a chance to see examples. A long wait led to questioning why he wasn’t charged. It turns out there was good reason. The police weren’t protecting someone guilty but rather vindicating someone who wasn’t.
By contrast, initial reports need to be backed up investigation. Treating every word of a first report as gospel leads to inconsistencies in faith. Accounts within may be as unreliable as scouting reports. The claims could be inaccurate through human error or at worst reflect an agenda of wanting to convict someone regardless of whether elements conform. Changes in the narrative are not necessarily forthcoming. But everyone checking what everyone else says is the best way to strive for truth in a world where it seems tough to find.
Treat each case as its own. It applies to more than individual players. Someone who just wanted to punt for a living must try to move past the stigma created doing nothing more than attending a party. He’s sadly not the first. Patrick Kane, Kobe Bryant, and Duke’s lacrosse team each faced unspeakable grievances that turned out to have nothing to do with reality.
The news of the rape kit left at the door of Kane’s accuser was horrifying aside from how it was patently false. People who concluded the horrific charge reflected intimidation on behalf of someone powerful never considered a distinct possibility, namely that someone baselessly impugned someone else who committed no wrong.
The possibility that people could lie about the most horrific things is unpleasant as it is necessary to scrutinize. Free will paired with motivation leading to lying is a lousy part of human nature that pretending doesn’t exist leads to dire consequences.
A team that had a season to play in the meantime could justify not retaining his services at the time. The Bills could say they let him straighten it out without enduring the distraction caused while establishing events. On the other hand, they might have kept him on the presumption of innocence. A cynical observer might wonder if they would have done the same with, say, a quarterback. Double down and wonder if we’ll find out how much they knew about exculpatory evidence and only cut him once media pressure spiked.
The player’s contributions should be irrelevant. His potential contributions may have been rendered moot because an offense with this much firepower rarely calls upon the position, but that doesn’t affect legal details. Treating people the same regardless of roster status should be a universal goal.
Would the Bills take him back? They were interested enough to add him over what seems way longer than the previous draft. His interest is a factor. He’d have to trust the team who released him while accepting their perspective. At the same time, Araiza also understands all too well that it takes time and effort for someone clearing his name.
Equating charges with guilt is an unhealthy assumption. One may as well believe Tua is the AFC East’s best quarterback because Dolphins fans announce it. Verify every assertion. There’s nothing insulting to the person issuing the comment about ensuring veracity.
It’s never too late to learn even if the lessons should’ve started long ago. Those who loudly surmised his guilt seem quiet now. That doesn’t mean taking his side before all information is out but waiting to see if the timeline holds up to scrutiny. Figuring he didn’t do it differs from figuring out actuality before rendering judgment.
Araiza was a victim. The accuser lied about the entire situation. It’s a relief that the alleged offense didn’t occur and an outrage that the best-case scenario was an innocent person maligned and judged. A story bigger than football turned out to be so for different reasons than first reported.
Getting back to normal is not as easy as refuting incriminations on Monday then returning to one’s routine Tuesday. Someone who wasn’t present at the moment of the alleged ghastly felony endured a heavy cost. This is the time of year conducive to speculation about football, which creates a chance to remember that nothing has been proven. It’s always important to never get ahead of what actually happens.
Editor’s babble: This will go in my top ten favorite columns by Anthony Bialy. So much to think about here and learn from. We live in a world that rushes to judgment as fast as social media can spread the word. Our leering desire to gossip >>> the reality that we got it all wrong. We all can benefit from being more mindful about our words. Tip of the wyohat to Anthony for his thought provoking contributions to our blog. You can also find Anthony on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.
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