Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
If the NFL has any mercy, it will give Detroit center Dominic Raiola a pass for making an obscene gesture to fans during the Lions' 20-16 loss Sunday to Minnesota at Ford Field. You can't punish Raiola any more than what he's already gone through, having been heckled for seven years as one of the Lions' longest-tenured players.
Imagine the impact of losing, often spectacularly, over so many years. It's clear Raiola simply couldn't take it any longer and snapped. Who wouldn't?
Here's what Raiola said to Detroit reporters on Monday, according to John Niyo of the Detroit News:
"I don't take one thing back. 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."
Challenging fans to a fight might be a bit over the top, but it's nice to see that at least one Lions player is fed up with the losing. And if anyone has absorbed the full brunt of the organization's failures, it's Raiola. The NFL should reward him for loyalty rather than punish him for a heat-of-the-moment hand gesture.
Now that we've gotten that off our chest, let's continue our spin around the NFC North:
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com notes that Lions cornerback Brian Kelly wasn't only dropped from the starting lineup Sunday against Minnesota. He never got on the field. Coach Rod Marinelli wouldn't explain the demotion.
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune hasn't seen Bears tailback Matt Forte hit any kind of a rookie wall.
Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris is expected to play Thursday against New Orleans despite sitting out the second half of Sunday's game against Jacksonville, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders if Mark Tauscher's left knee injury actually makes it more likely that he will re-sign with the team. There aren't likely to be any big-money offers on the table for a tackle with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, opening up the possibility of the Packers signing him to a short-term, low-risk contract.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy backed defensive coordinator Bob Sanders on Monday, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "When the defense is called," McCarthy said, "we need to play the defense."
Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said he thought his season was over when Lions rookie Gosder Cherilus upended him with a low block Sunday, according to Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at the role of federal courts in disputes governed by collective bargaining agreements, such as the one between Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and the NFL.