Sometime late in Sunday's game against the Vikings, Lions center Dominic Raiola gave some fans what is assumed to be the one-finger salute. Apparently a group of fans were heckling Raiola for his and presumably the team's performance and the insults allegedly became too personal and involved his family, according to the Detroit News. At that point, Raiola couldn't take any more of what he heard and decided to flip off the hecklers.
When asked about the incident on Monday, Raiola wasn't the least bit sorry for his actions, as he was clearly still upset over the heckling.
"Nope. Not one bit," said Raiola, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing four games with a broken right thumb. "Not one bit. Because I wish everybody out there came into the film room and watched the film, watched the effort put out there. And, yeah, everybody makes mistakes, everybody messes up -- and I'm talking for everybody right now -- and, yeah, they're paying customers. But we're trying to put some wins on the board and give them something to cheer about. And I don't know what to say, other than what I said yesterday."
Raiola continued and actually challenged some fans to a fight, saying he wished he could give out his address so they had to go up against him face-to-face.
"I don't take one thing back," said Raiola, an eighth-year pro whose string of 104 consecutive starts ended after getting injured Nov. 2 at Chicago. "I'll say the same thing to a fan that I see on the street. I wish I could give my address out to some fans -- I'd do that. But you can't. Nobody plays with fists. Everybody wants to play with metal. So I can't.
"I'm just so frustrated. I'm tired of being a doormat. For people to just talk to us how they want to talk to us, I'm just not gonna put up with that anymore."
As you probably guessed, the Lions fined Raiola $7,500 for his actions. Even so, Raiola isn't backing down. He continued his tirade against the fans in an interview with Sporting News Radio by saying that they should just stay home.
"You know, if you're not happy, why are you coming to the game? I understand that they haven't seen a winner in eight years, so don't come. Don't come until we turn it around."
Considering the number of fans that are actually still going to the games decreases with each non-Thanksgiving home game, I'm sure the Lions don't like to hear one of their players telling fans to stay home. Hell, the ones that are showing up to games are probably the most loyal fans out there. Not many people would voluntarily pay money to go watch a winless team, so it's probably not smart to generalize an entire fan base because a few people insulted you.
I can understand why Raiola is upset, as personal insults involving his family are absolutely classless. There is no need to go after anything but how players perform on the field unless their behavior dictates otherwise. I mean, come on people. He has played for the worst franchise in the NFL his entire career. Is it really necessary to insult him about off the field things involving his family? There is plenty to criticize regarding his and other players' on the field performance, and everything else should be off limits.
With that being said, Raiola does need to cool it. I understand why he flipped the fans off and don't really have a problem with the gesture. He was angry and he flipped (no pun intended) out. However, what I do have a problem with is going off on basically all the fans for no reason at all. A few people are not representative of an entire fan base, and when you do play for a winless team it probably is a good idea to keep your mouth shut. You got to display your displeasure with the hecklers during the game and in the papers after the game. Now, though, it's time to give it a rest and focus on more important things. You know, like winning a game.