Detroit player unkind to Badger Band|
|The “best band in the land” is apparently not good enough for Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola.|
The Lions organization said they are investigating whether Raiola verbally abused members of the University of Wisconsin marching band during Detroit’s thumping by the Green Bay Packers Sunday.
The band, widely considered one of the top—or maybe the best—marching in the country, was at Lambeau Field to perform during the game and stuck around for a rousing “Fifth Quarter” frolic.
Raiola, apparently, was not impressed or amused.
School officials reported that during warm-ups and prior to the national anthem, Raiola went on a verbal tirade, with obscene and homophobic comments directed at members of the band.
"My kids were standing in the end zone, waiting to perform, when they were subjected to some pretty strong verbal abuse," Michael Leckrone, director of bands for the University of Wisconsin said. “They were highly intimidated by it, by a 295-pound lineman saying those things to a 165-pound clarinet player."
Zach York, a tuba player in the band, posted more information about the incident on his Facebook page after the game, including the specifics of the insults hurled by Raiola at various band members.
“Dominic Raiola is literally the worst person I have ever had the fortune to encounter,” York wrote. “After marching down the field awaiting the national anthem, He went off on a verbal tirade, among other things, questioning my sexuality (as a band member) and then continued on to bring my sister and my recently deceased mother into the conversation. After I refused to give him the satisfaction of turning to look at him, he switched targets to a trombone ranting at him calling him overweight and saying he can't play a real sport. After our half-time show, the same fine gentleman called a female member of the band (an obscenity).”
The band played on in the face of the incident. Leckrone praised his students for ignoring the remarks and staying focused on their performance.
"I'm proud of them for how they responded," he said.
In a statement after the game, the Lions organization said it expected better from its players.
“We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band,” the Lions said. “Those reports are extremely inconsistent with the standard of behavior we expect from our players and from every member of our organization. We currently are gathering more information and will respond further when appropriate.”
Lori Berquam, the university’s dean of students, and Leckrone said they heard Monday from Lions President Tom Lewand.
“He has apologized for the actions of his player and has assured us that further discussion will take place,” they said. “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. We are proud of the way members of the UW Band have brought this matter to our attention.”
The Wisconsin Badger Band has been a fixture at Packers games since 1989.
"It's a shame that it was spoiled," Leckrone said. "It's a shame that one individual doesn't reflect well on the entire Lions organization. It was totally uncalled for and inappropriate."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy discussed the subject at his Monday news conference.
"I saw the headline," said McCarthy about the story. "We love the Wisconsin band. I don't know what he's thinking about, saying anything negative to the band."
He explained that the UW band has a "phenomenal reputation. They did a great job yesterday."
Days before the game, Raiola, a 13-year veteran, commented that he wanted to moon Green Bay Packers fans. He also has been fined twice for vulgar language and gestures at NFL fans, according to the Free Press.
The UW Badger marching band in action Sunday at Lambeau Field.
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