Allen Park — It didn’t take long for the news of Johnny Manziel’s obscene gesture during the “Monday Night Football” exhibition game at Washington to make the rounds in the Lions locker room.
Manziel, the Browns’ rookie quarterback, is in a heated battle for the starting job, but could face an $11,000 fine for directing a middle finger toward the Washington bench in the third quarter.
Lions center Dominic Raiola is familiar with the negative side of reacting to players and fans, having faced penalties for his own transgressions.
Raiola was fined $15,000 in 2010 for his hand gesture and unsavory words toward a Dolphins fan after a 34-27 win. He also got a $7,500 fine for a similar situation against the Vikings during the 0-16 season of 2008.
The notification of fines comes in a special-delivery package, which is the harbinger of bad news. It’s a not-so-nice welcome to the NFL for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
“Enjoy the FedEx. That’s my thought — enjoy that FedEx package — it ain’t pretty,” Raiola joked.
But Raiola scoffed at the amount of Manziel’s fine, compared to his.
“$11,000? That’s it? I got $15,000 — that might have been the third or fourth offense, though.”
Raiola said he has matured in the past few years since his fines and has worked on improving himself rather than worry about what other say or think about him.
“You can’t do that. I’ve grown up a lot since then,” he said. “I don’t even respond to the crowd anymore. Maybe that’s the old side of me. We have so much more going on to respond to other players or the crowd.”
Now in his 14th season, Raiola has grown into more of a leadership role with the Lions and sees how unwise his decisions were back then.
“I think of myself as an idiot back then when I was a hothead,” he said. “I put so much more focus and energy into my game (now).”