Dominic Raiola was home in Hawaii one day this February when he got a call from Lions vice president of pro personnel Sheldon White telling him he was going to be released. For weeks, since the Lions approached his agent at the Senior Bowl with news they were remaking their offensive line, Raiola had been wrestling with his future. He was set to count $6.1 million against the salary cap this year, and he knew he’d have to take a pay cut, but the Lions’ offer of $1 million was a shot to the pride of a 12-year vet who’d long been the leader of the team. Raiola’s good friend and linemate, Stephen Peterman, already had been let go, and Raiola slowly was coming to grips with his fate, too. He sent good-bye text messages to most of the Lions’ equipment staff, thanking them for all their work, and reached out in similar fashion to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and a few of his teammates. While the Lions and Raiola’s agent, Kenny Zuckerman, hassled over his exit physical, Raiola came to an epiphany after a text exchange with his good friend and quarterback Matthew Stafford. A few months earlier, after one especially gut-wrenching loss in the Lions’ 4-12 season, Raiola and Stafford were sitting near each other on the plane ride home when talk turned to 2013. Raiola knew he’d have to give money back to stay in Detroit, Stafford was nearing a contract extension of his own, and both agreed that taking less money might be best for the team.
Lions' Dominic Raiola wants to be at center of team's, city's turnaround
Detroit Free Press | Nov 24