The verdict is in, and the NFL didn't think Lions center Dominic Raiola's stomp on Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson's ankle Sunday was inadvertent.
The league announced Monday afternoon it will suspend Raiola for one game without pay, so he will miss Sunday's game in Green Bay with the NFC North title on the line.
Raiola will appeal the suspension with hopes of playing in Week 17. Either Derrick Brooks or Ted Cottrell, both former players, will hear and decide on Raiola's appeal Tuesday afternoon.
The suspension, which was handed down by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, will cost Raiola $73,529 if it stands.
In his 14 seasons in the NFL, Raiola has been at the center of many controversies. He once flipped off Lions fans. He once called a University of Wisconsin band member a derogatory term. Last month he received a $10,000 fine for punching Patriots defensive lineman Zach Moore in the back of the head.
Now, Raiola's most recent antics will hold him out of one of the biggest games of his career after yet another incident in which he risked another player's safety.
According to NFL spokesman Michael Signora, this is Raiola's sixth safety-related rules violation since 2010.
Early Monday afternoon, Lions coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged there was a chance Raiola would be suspended for stomping on Ferguson's ankle in the Lions' 20-14 win at Soldier Field Sunday. Later Monday, FOX Sports reported that the Lions told Raiola to plan for a one-game suspension.
And before the league announced the punishment, Caldwell stood up for his player.
"I believe what Dom told me that it was inadvertent," Caldwell said Monday. "But I can also see why obviously it's being reviewed by the league and everybody's taking a real good look at it because you can also see the other side of that as well.
"There's a league protocol to it. It'll be reviewed and taken a look at and we'll deal with the issues after there's been some determination there."
If Raiola can't play in Week 17, rookie Travis Swanson would make his first NFL start at center against the Packers. A third-round pick, Swanson started four games this year at right guard when Larry Warford was out with a knee injury. Swanson showed improvement in each start, and center is his more natural position and the one at which he played 50 games at Arkansas.
With 11:45 left in the third quarter of Sunday's 20-14 Lions win at Soldier Field, Raiola was briefly off-balance after a 4-yard run by Joique Bell. Then, he stomped his left foot into Ferguson's right ankle. Ferguson left the game with an ankle injury but did return, and the play did not receive a penalty.
After the game, Caldwell said he hadn't seen the stomp, but he watched various versions of it before his weekly news conference Monday. Caldwell also said he met with Raiola Monday morning, but declined to provide details of their conversation.
After the game, Raiola said he didn't intend to step on Ferguson and apologized to the rookie second-round pick.
"We're out there trying to score a touchdown. I'm not going to put myself in position to get a 15-yarder. Come on, now," Raiola said after the game. "I knew I was stumbling. Me and (left guard) Rob (Sims) had a combination block. I remember exactly what happened. I was stumbling through.
"If I intentionally step on him, that puts me in danger of getting hurt, so let's put that to rest now. He accepted the apology and we move on."
Ferguson wasn't buying the apology attempt, though.
"None of that matters. We all saw the play," Ferguson said. "You can't take back what happened with that play, you know what I mean? We all saw the play, so that's the end of that."
Raiola said he didn't expect to receive a punishment for Sunday's incident, but Bears players thought he broke an unwritten rule even if he didn't draw a flag.
"He apologized to him at the end, and the league will take up for it," Chicago defensive end Jared Allen said. "There's no need for it. That's our guys' careers here."