The Detroit Lions president responded to accusations against center Dominic Raiola involving his interactions with the University of Wisconsin marching band during the Lion’s game against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Raiola reportedly made inappropriate comments to UW band members.
A statement issued by Lori Berquam, vice provost for student life and dean of students, and Mike Leckrone, UW band director, said Lions President Tom Lewand called Monday and apologized for the actions of his player and said further discussion about the comments will take place.
Raiola told Jennifer Hammond, a Fox sports reporter, the band story was “blown way out of proportion” and that the team has more important things to worry about, like wins and loses.
Leckrone told News 3 the incident occurred as the band was preparing to play "The Star Spangled Banner," and he was on the other side of the field at the time. He said he didn't hear about the incident until after the pregame.
He said the band is accustomed to the razzing that can occur at a football game, but the comments that the students claim Raiola made were personal.
“It got very personal, they felt, and that was the thing that was really offensive to them. They felt it was beyond what would just be a normal kind of razzing back and forth,” said Leckrone.
Leckrone said the students were shaken by the comments. He said he heard about the comments from numerous sources and he believes his students. He said he’s proud of how the band members responded to the incident.
"When you go on the road, there's hostile environments. Fans say a lot of things and stuff like that," Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We need to stay above stuff like that. I didn't hear that personally on the field. No other coaches did. I'd be very disappointed if that was the case because that's certainly not the character we want to display."
The statement issued by Berquam and Leckrone said they 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.
“We appreciate the Lions’ efforts to investigate this further and are grateful to Mr. Lewand for his concern,” the statement said.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy also commented on the allegations during his Monday news conference.
“We love the Wisconsin Badgers, honestly. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking about to say anything negative to the band,” he said. “I don’t know what was said, but I know our fans love it when the Wisconsin band is here.”
Details of the incident are being reported by numerous blogs. Accounts of the incident contain profane language.