The Packers continued their two-decade-long regular-season streak of winning when the UW Band provides the halftime and Fifth Quarter entertainment.
Sunday’s 22–9 win over Detroit (which has not won in Wisconsin for the same amount of time) was marred by this unpleasantry from the mouth of Lions center Dominic Raiola, as reported by Tom Melton:
According to a Wisconsin tuba player, 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. The tuba player I spoke with made sure to point out that the rest of the band hadn’t even been on the field yet, and none of the tuba players said anything to him, so no one in the band could have provoked Raiola prior to him making those comments.
As the band was preparing to play the National Anthem another band member told me Raiola was yelling at him, saying such things such as “Hey fat guy, you want a hot dog?” When this band member did not acknowledge him, he continued to yell at other band members within earshot of him until the band began to play. A third band member told me Raiola was calling a band member near him a “fat fu**” prior to their pregame performance as well.
After the band’s halftime performance multiple band members I spoke with told me he and multiple other band members vividly heard Raiola ridicule a trombone player’s weight while they were performing. One band member reported hearing a female member of the band say “Hey number 51,” referring to Raiola, which multiple band members told me he responded to by calling her “the c-word” as they were walking back to their seats.
This is all in addition to this facebook status which has been shared 243 times as of this writing:
According to this band member Raiola made comments regarding his sexuality, as well as other insults involving his sister and recently deceased mother. An additional band member confirmed this story, adding that one such insult was “[Raiola] was going to take his trumpet and shove it up his sister’s p***y” in addition to Raiola “repeatedly calling him a fag.” According to this band member “as soon as we stopped for our position to play the National Anthem I just heard [Raiola] yelling continually at him.” Multiple other members of the band reported hearing Raiola uttering homophobic slurs throughout his unprovoked denigrating of the students prior to the National anthem. …
It is worth noting that while Raiola’s comments were completely uncalled for, a band member confirmed to me 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.
This strikes me as a sign that Sunday’s game was already lost to the Lions before kickoff. If Raiola (whose brother, Donovan, was an offensive lineman at Wisconsin) is focusing on the band, his mind isn’t on the game. The Lions are already known for self-destruction through lack of discipline, specifically stupid personal foul penalties:
This isn’t the first time the UW Band has gotten some non-performance notice during a Packer game. The book From Red Ink to Roses includes a phone conversation between Gov. Tommy Thompson and UW–Madison Chancellor Donna Shalala in which Thompson asks (somewhat tongue in cheek) what Shalala is going to do about the band’s chanting something along the lines of “Da Bears still suck” during a Bears–Packers game. To that, Shalala replied that she couldn’t sanction the band for telling the truth.
And speaking of the tubas, there was this during a Vikings–Packers game:
Note that the tubas’ target, former Viking wide receiver Randy Moss, th0ught it was funny.
If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is serious about improving player conduct, he needs to fine Raiola. And it seems to me that the Lions franchise should apologize to the UW Band by inviting them to play at the rematch Thanksgiving Day.
Afternoon update: From DetroitLions.com’s Twitter account:
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 the organization. We currently are gathering more information and will respond further when appropriate.
The writer later added about Lions coach Jim Schwartz:
Schwartz said he’d be disappointed if the reports about Raiola are true and said his players need to be “above that.”