Good morning and ROOOOAAARRR!!!!
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Dominic Raiola knows that after Sunday, his future with the Detroit Lions -- and in the NFL in general -- is extremely uncertain.
The 34-year-old center, who turns 35 on Monday, has spent his entire career with the Lions. Has played through all the losing seasons, all the years of collapse and failure.
And then this season, where Raiola played possibly the best he ever has, which was full of heartbreak. So herein lies his future, a free agent after the season entering the future unknown.
Although there are two things he does know: He can still play. He wants to stay in Detroit. He has not, though, spoken with Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew about his future.
"All I can say is I want to still play and I know I can still play," Raiola said.
Raiola believes he showed he can still play -- he said Wednesday he'd like to play "a couple more years" -- this season, where he led an offensive line with three new starters to be one of the best in the NFL, allowing Matthew Stafford to be sacked only 18 times in 15 games. He also played in his 200th NFL game earlier this season.
He's also shown a willingness to work with the team when it comes to his contract in the past. He took a pay cut entering this season down to the veteran minimum to stay with the Lions and to keep playing.
Then he responded with the season he had in 2013. And now he doesn't want his career in Detroit to end with the way this season ended for the Lions, with a second half collapse of the season that took the team from a potential divisional title to out of the playoffs.
"This would be a horrible memory," Raiola said. "If I ended things thy way they did here. Now. But I definitely still want to play."
He said he hasn't thought about the possibility of Sunday being his last game with the Lions yet, but did think about his future last Sunday, when he walked out of Ford Field for the final time this season.
"I was kind of looking at that Sunday after I left Ford Field and we lost, knowing that there's no shot we'd have a playoff game," Raiola said. "What can you do? Like I said, all I can do is have the same attitude and play at a real high level, like I've been doing and let the chips fall where they may.
"Hopefully I'll be back but we'll see what happens."
And now a look around the Interwebs in search of Lions news ... and Happy Holidays from us over here covering the Lions to you wherever you may be:
And also in the Free Press, while not a sports story, you've probably noticed the Michigan Central train station if you've driven into Detroit for a game at Ford Field. Here is the building's current story.
Lions playing for pride this week, writes Josh Katzenstein in the Detroit News.
The Lions are trying to win, not looking at younger players in Sunday's finale against Minnesota, writes Justin Rogers of MLive. Rogers also looks at how the Lions used press coverage well with cornerback Chris Greenwood.