Dominic Raiola apologized to Lions

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Injured Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch said suspended center Dominic Raiola apologized to some of his teammates for being a distraction leading up to the team's NFC North title showdown against the Green Bay Packers.

Raiola was suspended one game without pay Monday for stomping on the ankle of Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson during the Lions' 20-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Raiola appealed the suspension, but appeals officer Derrick Brooks, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, upheld the penalty Tuesday.

"We all look up to Raiola," Tulloch said on Detroit Sports 105.1 Radio on Tuesday. "He's been here the longest of any player on the team.

"We're not happy; it's not a happy situation, but he apologized for it -- a heartfelt apology to the team. He's a guy a lot of players respect on this team. He understands what happened, and hopefully the appeal can go through."

In announcing the suspension Monday, the NFL also mentioned Raiola's history of safety-related issues. He already had been fined this season for clubbing the back of the head of New England Patriots defensive lineman Zach Moore.

Tulloch said on 105.1 that Raiola apologized to players he saw during their off days. Detroit's players have not practiced yet this week.

As a result of the suspension, Raiola will not be allowed to attend team events or be at the team's facility until next week.

"He doesn't want to be a distraction to the team," Tulloch said on 105.1.

Lions receiver Golden Tate said on 105.1 earlier Tuesday that he didn't worry about a Chicago player retaliating at him or another Detroit player during the game after the Raiola incident and that if Raiola's appeal were denied, Detroit would have to rely on the next guy on the roster.

"Dom is a vet. He's been playing this game for a long time and been playing at a high level for a long time, so I don't know what was going through his head when he did that," Tate said. "I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but it hurts the team. We need him out there.

"I know that he's disappointed in himself -- in his actions, but it's not like baseball where you go out there and try to peg him."

Rookie Travis Swanson will end up starting at center for the Lions against the Packers. Swanson was Detroit's third-round pick in May's draft out of Arkansas.

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