Wisconsin Band Accuses NFL Player of Verbal Assault

Members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band report that Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola verbally assaulted them on the field during their pre-game performance at a Green Bay Packers game.

Initial and follow-up reports say Raiola taunted band members with homophobic slurs, made sexual threats against family members, questioned their sexual identity, made negative comments regarding weight, and used curse words and a derogatory term for women.

From ESPN.com:

“The band was lined up in the end zone preparing to finish ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ which would complete the pregame, and basically they were verbally assaulted by a member of the Detroit Lions team,” Leckrone said. “To their credit, they just stood there and did what they were supposed to do, which is focus on their performance.

“I think they were a little bit shaken by it, and they reported it to me after the conclusion of the pregame show, and we were back in our seats.”

Leckrone guessed that between eight and 12 band members approached him after the alleged verbal assault. Leckrone said he did not hear the altercation happen himself, as he was on the other side of the field and was not directly involved.

Leckrone said he instructs his band how to deal with opposing players “every day” and was “very pleased” with how they handled this alleged situation.

The band plans to submit a formal complaint in the near future.

In response to the news, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand called Leckrone and university officials to offer a verbal apology and pledged to investigate the incident further.

The Wisconsin band performs at a Green Bay Packers game as a yearly tradition. Raiola has been fined twice for altercations with opposing fans. The Lions lost to the Packers 22-9. 

UPDATE, 10/9/13: According to the Detroit Lions website, Raiola has personally apologized to Leckrone, the band, and his own team. He is said to have made a “significant” donation to the marching band’s fund. The Lions have said that there will be no further disciplinary action.

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