Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Black and Blue all over: What would you expect?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

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: