Dominic Raiola is in his 13th season with the Lions. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park – The Lions are looking into accusations made against center Dominic Raiola by members of the University of Wisconsin Band, which performed at Lambeau Field Sunday.
Raiola is being accused of an unprovoked, expletive-ridden, hate-filled tirade directed at several members of the band but primarily the tuba section before the game Sunday. According to one of the accuser's Facebook page, Raiola called the band members, among other hateful things, "Fat (expletives)."
"We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band," said a statement from the Lions. "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."
The University of Wisconsin issued a statement Monday that said Lions president Tom Lewand apologized for Raiola’s behavior. The statement was issued jointly by Lori Berquam, vice provost for student life and dean of students, and marching band director Mike Leckrone.
“Earlier today, we received a call from Lions president Tom Lewand. He has apologized for the actions of his player and has assured us that further discussion will take place,” the statement read, in part. “We appreciate the Lions' efforts to investigate this further and are grateful to Mr. Lewand for his concern.”
Coach Jim Schwartz said neither he nor any of the other coaches heard and verbal jousting between Raiola and the band. He hadn't yet addressed the issue with Raiola. Monday was an off-day for the players and Raiola was not available to comment.
"We need to stay above stuff like that," Schwartz said. "I would be very disappointed if that was the case. It is certainly not the character we want to display."
Band members said Raiola made comments about their sexuality and made insults toward one member's sister and recently-deceased mother. Raiola was also accused of threatening to do unnatural things with a band member's trumpet.
The incident happened while the Lions were warming up. The full band hadn't yet got onto the field. The band members are saying Raiola wasn't provoked. But the band's tuba section has a history of taunting and aggravating football players and teams.
Calling themselves the Badger Tubas, they got national recognition over the years for going after receiver Randy Moss when he was injured, for aggravating former Vikings player Chris Hovan to the point where he nearly physically confronted them, and once, several years ago, spelling out "Bears Still Suck" during a game.
"Like I said, I would be surprised if that happened in these circumstances, but we will look into it," Schwartz said. "If it did I would be very disappointed."
According to Tom Melton, who writes a blog called NFL Draft Blog, a band member said safety Louis Delmas apologized to members of the band for Raiola's outburst.