After Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola made “inappropriate comments” to University of Wisconsin Marching Band members during their Green Bay performance last weekend, the band director says he considers the matter closed.
Marching Band Director Michael Leckrone said he received phone calls from both Lions President Tom Lewand and Raiola this week to apologize after UW band members reported the Lions player verbally assaulted several members during their pre-game show at Lambeau Field.
Every year the UW Marching Band gets the opportunity to play at a Green Bay Packers’ home game, Leckrone said. About two-thirds of the way through the pre-game show, the marching band players were standing at attention to play the” Star Spangled Banner” when Raiola shouted some “very inappropriate comments” toward some of the band members, Leckrone said.
According to band member’s Facebook post, which had been shared nearly 480 times as of Tuesday night, Raiola went on a “tirade” questioning the band member’s sexuality, referencing his family and poking fun at a trombone player’s weight.
Raiola also reportedly called a the trombone player a “fat fuck” asking him if he wanted a hot dog and told a female band player she was a “cunt,” according to a post on Tom Melton’s NFL Draft Blog.
He said Raiola acknowledged his conduct had been inappropriate and asked him to accept his apology in a phone call Tuesday. Raiola said he had not meant for his words to be personal but could understand how it was taken that way, Leckrone added.
Raiola, who will not face any further disciplinary action from the NFL, reportedly made a “significant” donation to the band’s fund, according to ESPN.
Leckrone said since he was on the other side of the field, he was unaware of the comments until after the pre-game show ended and band members were talking about the incident.
He also said the band has not encountered verbal attacks as “intimidating” or as “personal” as this one before.
“You get a lot of ‘We’re going to beat the Badgers’ [or] ‘Look out Wisconsin, our team is going to beat you,’ and you get booed when you go to perform, but that’s part of the game,” Leckrone said. “This was of a more personal nature.”
Marching band members did not respond to Raiola’s comments, as they were preparing to play the national anthem, Leckrone said.
“I think [the comments] tripped players up a bit because they really didn’t expect it but to their credit they focused on the task as hand and completed it,” Leckrone said.
In a joint statement with Leckrone, Dean of Students Lori Berquam said special opportunities such as playing at a Packers game are a highlight for the band and added she was proud the band members brought the matter to the university’s attention while providing a great experience for the fans at Lambeau.
Looking forward, Leckrone said the band has to move past the incident and prepare for the Homecoming game.