Lions’ Raiola apologizes to Wisconsin band
By LARRY LAGE
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola apologized Tuesday for “unacceptable” remarks he made to the University of Wisconsin band last weekend as his team moved swiftly to defuse an off-the-field distraction.
“My interaction with the Wisconsin Marching Band was inappropriate,” Raiola said in a statement released by the Lions. “I apologize to those I offended along with all of the members of Wisconsin’s Marching Band. I also apologize to the Lions’ organization and my teammates. I understand the standards to which we should conduct ourselves, and my actions Sunday fell dramatically short of those standards.”
Raiola was not available for interviews in the Lions’ locker room when it was open for the media Tuesday.
The Lions said Raiola called band director Michael Leckrone to apologize for his actions and to say he was going to make a “significant donation” to support the band. A message was left on Tuesday for Leckrone.
Band members said Raiola verbally abused them at Lambeau Field, where they were performing before and after Sunday’s Lions-Packers game.
“After investigating the matter and discussing Sunday’s events with Dominic, we are pleased that he has taken ownership of his actions and admitted those actions were wrong and unacceptable,” Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement. “As we said (Monday), his actions were not reflective of the standard of behavior that we expect from any player or any member of our organization. We are also pleased that he is supporting his apology with a significant donation.”
“Due to Dominic’s sincere and appropriate response, there will be no additional disciplinary action by the team,” Lewand said.
The NFL, likewise, has decided it will not issue additional discipline.
Detroit drafted Raiola in the second round in 2001 and the 13-year veteran is the longest-tenured member on the team. He has started 177 games and played in 193 over his career.
Raiola has previously acknowledged being fined three times by the Lions.
He was fined $15,000 in 2010 for his actions after beating the Miami Dolphins. He was filmed responding to a fan in Miami with obscene words and a hand gesture as he walked off the field following a victory. In 2008, he was docked $7,500 for inappropriate conduct directed toward fans during a loss at home to Minnesota. Raiola also said he was also fined for “doing stuff with the crowd” by former coach Steve Mariucci.
Lori Berquam, Wisconsin’s dean of students, and Leckrone heard from Lewand on Monday, a day after the Packers beat Detroit 22-9.
“Special opportunities such as playing before a Packers game are highlights for our band members: something they look forward to, and that we hope they will remember with pride,” the school officials said. “We are proud of the way members of the UW Band have brought this matter to our attention.”
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