The NFL has become very conscious of player conduct both on and off the field had have emphasized the importance of maintaining a comfortable and accepting atmosphere for players, fans and team executives. That’s why any use of offensive language aimed towards a group or individuals is taken seriously. As USA Today Sports reported on October 9, Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola was the latest athlete accused of using homophobic language.
According to the report, an incident accrued before Sunday’s 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Raiola reportedly insulted a member of the Wisconsin marching band with the use of a gay slur. At least one band member took to Facebook accusing the Lions center of using homophobic language and well as other expletives. Raiola denied the use of the slur but did admit to getting into a verbal spat with the band.
Despite denying the use of the gay slur, Raiola apologized for allowing the situation to go too far.
“It’s pretty much behind us now. I bet there are probably 95% of them that we were jawing a little bit back and forth, and probably the other 5 didn’t, maybe a couple people didn’t like it and kid of went far.”
Dominic Raiola also said he was focused on his next game and leaving the incident behind him. The Detroit Lions organization is investigating the situation internally, but it wouldn’t be the first time Raiola has been associated with incidents of inappropriate conduct towards fans. He was fined once for aiming the middle finger towards a heckler and another time he was fined giving Dolphin fans a vulgar directive.
As for this incident, Raiola said it was “blown out of proportion” and did apologize for his involvement in the incident. Lions coach Jim Schwartz just hopes his player has learned from the incident.
“I think Dom did a good job of apologizing and also doing his best to rectify the situation and, hopefully, a positive can come out of a negative situation.”
The Detroit Lions have not stated whether or not they have found the claim to be true.