Detroit Lions offensive lineman Dominic Raiola has a nasty reputation. Apparently, it has reached a new level.
A University of Wisconsin band member says that when the band was performing during the pregame portion of the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game Sunday, Raiola was heard making crass remarks at band members.
"We were standing in the end zone, getting ready to march out to play the national anthem. He made his way over to the band. He didn't directly attack me, personally, but some close friends," said a member of the UW band who later asked we not use his last name after we interviewed him.
"He spit on the ground at our feet, was commenting on the sexuality of us, because we're in band. he was commenting on the weight of some of the band members, and he said some very specific insults that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying out loud. It was all unprovoked, shocking."
According to an NFL draft blog run by Tom Melton, Raiola used demeaning verbiage toward women, comments questioning the sexuality of band members and other crass remarks.
The band member's mom, Maureen, told TODAY'S TMJ4's Lacey Crisp about the shock of hearing what happened.
"His exact words to me were, 'Mom, I can't even tell you the obscenities this man had spewed at the band," Maureen, who lives in Muskego, told Lacey.
"He started, as I understand with the tubas and moved on to the trombones. He was trying to look for some kind of response and he wasn't getting what he wanted."
David, the band member's dad, called into 620WTMJ's "Midday with Charlie Sykes."
"He was there when this happened. He called me late last night and told me what happened. I was at a loss for words. I couldn't understand why an NFL player would do this...to go off on a tirade that was totally unprovoked," said David.
"These band kids are good kids. They're one of the top marching bands in the country. I don't know what set him off to do that."
UW Band Director Michael Leckrone told 620WTMJ's Jon Byman, "it was inappropriate and something my players shouldn't be subjected to...I was really proud of the way the kids handled it."
He also said on Wisconsin's Afternoon News that the Lions have given a verbal apology.
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."
A reporter for Detroit's FOX affiliate tweeted this Monday:
According to #Lions center Dominic Raiola The band story was "Blown way out of proportion".— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) October 7, 2013
"We've got more important things to worry about right now....we're worried about wins and loses." - Dominic Raiola in wake of #BandGate— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) October 7, 2013
The Lions sent this statement:
“We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. 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 team also tweeted a statement from coach Jim Schwartz:
Schwartz on Raiola: “If it did happen, we’d be very disappointed.” Schwartz said he heard nothing personally. #BelleTireMondayPresser— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) October 7, 2013
Days before the game, Raiola 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.
One of the incidents reportedly involves this tirade at Miami Dolphins fans. WARNING: VULGAR LANGUAGE/GESTURE
His brother, Donovan Raiola, played for the Badgers.