The 20-14 win over the Chicago Bears won’t be remembered for anyone play that affected the results of the game, but instead for another ugly incident involving a Detroit Lions offensive lineman who has had a reputation sheet of questionable incidents during his career.
In the 2nd 1 / 2 of today’s game, center Dominic Raiola intentionally stepped on the ankle of Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, which triggered Ferguson leaving the game, although no penalty was assessed. Given the rough past with Raiola and the potential distractions this incident will bring to the business, it is time for the Lions to sever ties with the veteran even in the middle of a playoff run.
A second-round pick in 2001 from Nebraska, Raiola has started just about any game from the Matt Millen era through the beginning of the Jim Caldwell era. While he’s been productive during his time with the Lions, Raiola’s career has been marred by some ugly incidents.
In 2008, Raiola was fined $7,500 for flipping off Lions fans throughout the 0-16 season. In 2013, Raiola allegedly taunted members of the Wisconsin Marching Band if you are “overweight” and using derogatory terms relating with their sexuality. Earlier this year, Raiola was again fined for a number of cheap shots on New England Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore during a blowout loss.
After having a great 2013 season, by which he was ranked on the list of five best centers in the NFL (according to Pro Football Focus), Raiola has had an extremely inconsistent season with numerous penalties and struggles in both pass protection and run blocking. The Lions did draft Travis Swanson in the 3rd round to eventually replace Raiola, but he’s been mostly used as a backup guard.
With Detroit’s biggest game in years coming next week against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field to decide the NFC North, the full time is currently to remove potential distractions like Raiola and proceed completely out of this repeat offender.
Raiola will surely be fined for this incident and may even be suspended for next Sunday’s game, but to avoid a week full of distractions, the Lions have to part ways with him immediately.