In the wake of the most discouraging sports story of the year, in terms of social progress, the Detroit Lions have an opportunity to make right what Center Dominic Raiola made wrong with his unprovoked hate speech.
Allow the Wisconsin Badgers marching band to play the nationally televised halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit or at least be invited to play before and after the game. The Lions are playing the Packers and it is a perfect way for the Lions’ front office to offer an actual apology to the members of the Wisconsin Badgers marching band that were verbally abused and intimidated by the 295 pound Raiola at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last Sunday.
In a tirade that included homophobic slurs and misogynistic speech, Raiola used words and phrases such as, “f*g,” “c***,” “fat motherf***ers,” and reportedly said he would take a band member’s trumpet and shove it up his sister’s something. Ironic that a 295 pound man calls anyone a “fat motherf***er.”
How these remarks, from a 34-year-old man to college kids, are not enough to get Raiola suspended is incomprehensible. Raiola has a history of negative interactions with fans and has been fined multiple times in the past.
The punishment this time? Just another fine, or rather, a “donation.”
Raiola made a “significant donation” to the marching band’s fund along with an obviously scripted apology. Is he suddenly passionate about Wisconsin’s marching band or is he simply buying his way out of a fine and punishment?
I think we all know the answer to that. What is worse is that the Lions have not fined him or suspended him, his donation was enough to satisfy them.
If that is how the Detroit Lions want to run their organization, that is their decision, but they have a real opportunity to correct an incident that flies in the face of several years of social progress. Raiola has always been a bully and it is players like him keeping the “Dumb bully jock” stereotype alive. He is indicative of the Lions’ culture in general. At least the Wisconsin Marching band got the last laugh, as they got to witness Detroit lose to Green Bay for an NFL record 23 consecutive times in the state of Wisconsin.
Lions’ safety Louis Delmas reportedly apologized to the Badger members of the marching band after Raiola’s ridiculous showering of insensitive insults. And to the band’s credit, not one member responded to Raiola with hostility. There is good to be found in this story. What needs to be explored, though, is Raiola’s past to see why this unprovoked verbal assault took place.
Was Raiola not good enough to play an instrument? Was he not good enough to be in marching band in high school? Did a neighbor kid steal his tuba 20 years ago? The truth may never come out, but a negative story could have a happy ending if the Lions’ front office has the integrity to do the right thing.
Invite the Wisconsin Badgers marching band to Jump Around at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day when the Lions take on the Packers. The marching band can get national exposure and justice can be seen from this most depressing of stories.
It’s 2013 Raiola, wake up.