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Lions center accused of hurling homophobic slur at band

Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola is accused of using a homophobic slur to insult at least one member of the University of Wisconsin band before Sunday’s 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Lions released a statement that said they are aware of the allegations and looking into the incident.

“We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band,” the statement read. “Those reports are extremely inconsistent with the standard of behavior we expect from our players and from every member of our organization.

“We currently are gathering more information and will respond further when appropriate.”

According to “Tom Melton’s Draft Blog,” which cited band members who performed the National Anthem before Sunday’s game, Raiola “repeatedly” called one band member a gay slur.

He also allegedly taunted band members about their weight, calling tuba players “fat (expletives)” and at one point saying, “Hey, fat guy, you want a hot dog?”

According to the report, Lions safety Louis Delmas apologized to the band after Raiola’s comments and “added that he enjoyed their performance.”

Raiola, who did not respond to a text message seeking comment Monday, has been fined at least twice by the Lions for inappropriate conduct toward fans.

In 2008, he was fined $7,500 for giving the middle finger to hecklers at Ford Field. Two years later, he was fined $15,000 for telling Dolphins fans to perform a sexual act on him after a Lions win in Miami.

Raiola’s brother, Donovan, played football at Wisconsin. Dominic Raiola played at Nebraska.

A staff member who answered the phone at the band office said she was not at Sunday’s game and referred questions to band director Michael Leckrone, who was not immediately available for comment.

The NFL did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Birkett covers the Lions for the Detroit Free Press, a Gannett property.

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