It's official: The Detroit Lions will be without their starting center on Sunday in the most important game of the season. This is because the NFL has suspended Dominic Raiola without pay for one game for stomping on Chicago Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson on Sunday.
Following Sunday's game, Raiola claimed that the stomp was inadvertent, and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said on Monday that he believed Raiola.
Jim Caldwell on Raiola's stomp: "I believe what Dom told me that it was inadvertent" but could see why the NFL is reviewing it. #Lions— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) December 22, 2014
Clearly the NFL isn't buying it. Between Sunday's incident and his recent history, the league decided Raiola was deserving of a suspension.
NFL says Dominic Raiola's 1 game suspension also is the result of his 6th player safety violation since 2010— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 22, 2014
Raiola will have an opportunity for an expedited appeal, but it seems unlikely that this suspension will be reduced to a fine. As a result, Raiola will now miss perhaps the biggest game of his entire career, and the Lions will now have to start rookie Travis Swanson at center on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers with the NFC North title and a first-round bye on the line.
UPDATE: By the way, Raiola is completely banned from the Lions' facility during his suspension. He will be reinstated on Dec. 29.