The Detroit Lions are investigating a claim from a member of the University of Wisconsin marching band that Lions center Dominic Raiola was verbally abusive to band members, who were practicing on the field prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
In the meanwhile, Lions president Tom Lewand reportedly called Wisconsin and offered an apology to the school's vice provost for student life and dean of students, Lori Berquam, and Mike Leckrone, director of the UW Marching Band, who issued the following statement:
"We were dismayed to hear reports of unprofessional and personal verbal attacks by a Detroit Lions player towards members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band before the Packers vs. Lions game at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Oct. 6.
"Earlier today, we received a call from Lions president Tom Lewand. He has apologized for the actions of his player and has assured us that further discussion will take place. We appreciate the Lions' efforts to investigate this further and are grateful to Mr. Lewand for his concern."
In his Facebook post, band member Zach York claimed:
"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."
An email sent to York was not immediately returned. Raiola has not publicly commented on the matter, and the team earlier issued a statement that they were investigating the matter.
The Lions are investigating reports that center Dominic Raiola was verbally abusive to members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) October 7, 2013
The Lions' official statement reads:
“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."
WTMJ Milwaukee spoke to another band member, who corroborated much of the initial claim.