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Dominic Raiola apologizes for tirade against Wisconsin band, to make donation but dodges suspension

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Leon Halip

Update (original story below):

Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola will not be suspended for his hate-filled rant against the University of Wisconsin band, but will make a donation to the group and apologized:

“My interaction with the Wisconsin Marching Band was inappropriate,” Raiola said, via Tim Twentyman of the Lions’ website. “I apologize to those I offended along with all of the members of Wisconsin’s Marching Band. I also apologize to the Lions’ organization and my teammates. I understand the standards to which we should conduct ourselves, and my actions Sunday fell dramatically short of those standards.”

Lions President Tom Lewand confirmed that the Lions will not discipline Raiola.

“Due to Dominic’s sincere and appropriate response, there will be no additional disciplinary action by the team,” Lewand said. “We are also pleased that he is supporting his apology with a significant donation to the Wisconsin Marching Band Fund.”

The Lions are letting Raiola off easy. Other players in other sports have been suspended for uttering similar slurs, but in this case he was able to buy himself out of it. His apology was also lame.

Original story:

The Detroit Lions have apologized to members of the University of Wisconsin marching band, whose members were subjected to a hate-filled tirade that included gay slurs by center Dominic Raiola. The band was performing at Green Bay's Lambeau Field on Sunday during the game between the Lions at Packers. Band member Zach York wrote about the incident on his Facebook page:

Dominic Raiola is literally the worst person I have ever had the fortune to encounter. 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 halftime show, the same fine gentleman called a female member of the band the "c" word.

A Wisconsin tuba player told Michigan sports blogger Tom Melton that "Raiola and his teammates were engaged in their pregame warm-ups on the field near the goal line when he turned around and called him and the other tubas 'Fat mother f**kers' and told them that 'they sucked.' According to that tuba player no one in the band had done anything to provoke him, and no other band members I spoke with witnessed anything that could have provoked Raiola."

Other band members said that Raiola hurled homophobic insult towards them, with band director Michael Leckrone telling SB Nation: "They were highly intimidated by it, by a 295-pound lineman saying those things to a 165-pound clarinet player."

Another band member told Melton that Lions safety "Louis Delmas apologized to him and other members of the band for Raiola's actions and assured them that he had spoken with him about it. He also added that he enjoyed their performance."

The Lions are investigating the incident before deciding any punishment for Raiola. "He said that he hadn't fully investigated but he knew enough that an apology was due," Leckrone said. "I thought it was a heartfelt and welcomed gesture."