Lions organization apologizes to UW band chief for Raiola's comments

Dominic Raiola. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lions organization apologizes to UW band chief for Raiola's comments

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED Oct 7, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 8, 2013

Members of the University of Wisconsin band who performed at Sunday's Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game say that a Lions player threw verbal abuse and spit at them.

The director of the UW Band has told 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Afternoon News" that a Lions official has given an apology for the actions of offensive lineman Dominic Raiola.

"He hoped that we wouldn't let the actions of one player affect our image of their organization.  He was very thoughtful in the comments that he made.  I accepted the apology because I thought it was very heartfelt," said Michael Leckrone on the show Monday.

As for punishment for Raiola, "I don't think that's for me to say...that's pretty much a closed issue."

On Tuesday, Raiola and the Lions issued a formal apology statement.

Leckrone threw praise at his members for how they handled things, while criticizing the words Raiola reportedly sent towards his musicians.

"I just thought it was inappropriate and something my players shouldn't be subjected to," said Leckrone to 620WTMJ News Director Jon Byman.

"I was really proud of the way the kids handled it."

Leckrone told Byman about what his band members described to him.

"We were standing in the end zone, in the middle of our pregame show just before the Star-Spangled Banner, waiting for the signal to do that," said Leckrone.

"Some of the players in my band were, I think, verbally attacked by a member of the Detroit Lions.  To their credit, they did what they were supposed to do and stay at attention and focus on the upcoming part of the performance which they did."

After the verbal attack allegedly took two or three minutes, Leckrone said, "As we were getting ready to dismiss there, as the game was starting, they came to me and said, 'You can't believe what just happened.' Some of it, the people were directly involved.  Some were just more or less observers.  They were all in a way directly involved.  A couple players may have been singled out."

Leckrone said he didn't hear what happened with his own ears, but trusted what multiple band members told him.

"It's more consistent throughout that it wasn't the most appropriate in any situation," said Leckrone.

"They were very shaken by it.  It came at a point in the show where you don't expect something like that to happen."

He also described how the Lions have stepped forward to investigate the situation.

"We appreciate what we understand already, that they've taken the matter seriously."