No Respect – Dominic Raiola 2

12:51 AM 2 Dec 2013

Rodney Dangerfield's comedy album No Respect.

Rodney Dangerfield’s comedy album No Respect. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Detroit Lions Center Dominic Raiola must feel like Rodney Dangerfield and the famous catchphrase “No Respect” as he approaches the end of his – to this point – less than extraordinary NFL Career.

Undoubtedly, Raiola has brought some of that feeling and catchphrase on himself with his fiery antics against fans and foes alike on occasion, but he is a true Lions warrior and worthy of wearing that beloved Honolulu Blue Detroit Lions logo and letter C on his chest. I personally hope he is given the opportunity to stay on the roster as a starter beyond this season to play a little longer with the current Lions team that is being groomed to be a perennial playoff contender. By “a little longer” I mean a year, maybe two.

The feisty Center out of Nebraska was drafted by the Lions in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft with the 50th overall pick. 2001 was also the last year of existence for the NFC Central division before the realignment in 2002 that created the current NFC North division. So Dom, in a way, is a last link to the true Black and Blue division. At the time of this writing, Raiola has started 184 of the 200 games he has played in and has started every game that he has played in since his second season in 2002, only missing four games due to injury in 13 NFL seasons. The Lions have an atrocious record of 60-144 and a single playoff appearance in the same time span.

As bad as the win/loss record and playoff appearances are, the fault can be passed around in many, many directions, but one direction in particular stands out above all others. Ever hear of Matt Millen? Yes? Enough said on that then.

Raiola has just been the unfortunate soul that has had to withstand the abundant losing before the glory of winning it all. Hopefully. I mean think about it. Can even Hollywood write a better football story than a player and team suffering so much misery before the elation of victory and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy together? No other team in the history of the NFL has had to dig itself out of a similar 0-16 hole that was created by Matt Millen in 2008, yet the Lions are ready to make regular and serious playoff runs for the foreseeable future under the guidance of new General Manager Martin Mayhew.

When Dom took over as the starting Center for the Detroit Lions in 2002 the main players he played next to and blocked for are as follows:

Year

LG

RG

QB

RB

Pro Bowlers

2002

Tony Semple

Ray Brown

Joey Harrington

James Stewart

None

2003

Eric Beverly

Ray Brown

Joey Harrington

Shawn Bryson

None

2004

David Loverne

Damien Woody

Joey Harrington

Kevin Jones

None

2005

Kyle Kosier

Damien Woody

Joey Harrington

Kevin Jones

None

2006

Ross Verba

Damien Woody

John Kitna

Kevin Jones

None

2007

Edwin Mulitalo

Stephen Peterman

John Kitna

Kevin Jones

None

2008

Edwin Mulitalo

Stephen Peterman

Dan Orlovski

Kevin Smith

None

2009

Manuel Ramirez

Stephen Peterman

Matthew Stafford

Kevin Smith

None

2010

Rob Sims

Stephen Peterman

Shaun Hill

Jahvid Best

None

2011

Rob Sims

Stephen Peterman

Matthew Stafford

Jahvid Best

None

2012

Rob Sims

Stephen Peterman

Matthew Stafford

Mikel Leshoure

None

2013

Rob Sims

Larry Warford

Matthew Stafford

Reggie Bush

To Be Determined

The main reason I wanted to point out the above players should be pretty evident, but let me spell it out for everyone – Dominic Raiola has played next to and blocked for garbage, basically. Until recently that is. LG Rob Sims is about as solid as they come since joining the Lions in 2010 and rookie Larry Warford is destined to become a superstar RG in the NFL if he stays on the path he is currently on. Matthew Stafford is far and away the best QB the Detroit Lions have seen on the field in a long time and quite possibly ever by the time he hangs up his cleats. RB Reggie Bush gets the majority of snaps and opportunities – and for good reason – but the Lions have a very stout RB combo with backup RB Joique Bell providing ample production of his own.

Raiola has never been voted to the Pro Bowl and isn’t the big name or DOMinating center like Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey or Seattle’s Max Unger, but what he is, is a staple of consistency and a player that will fight until the very end – and then some. He can never be accused of not having the heart of a Lion. That is for certain.

Other former Detroit Lions Ironmen players like Kicker Jason Hanson and LT Jeff Backus didn’t get the opportunity to frequent the playoffs before they ran out of gas, but Dom Raiola still has the fuel and desire with a motor that seems to be running better than ever. You could say he is Built Ford Tough.

English: Dominic Raiola, a player on the Natio...

Dominic Raiola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 2013 offseason Raiola put on twenty pounds of muscle beefing up to 310 pounds from his typical playing weight of 290 pounds. The extra strength is paying off, too. He is having an outstanding season even though it is near impossible to back that up with statistics since finding statistics for Centers is near impossible. At least for free that is.

Here is an interesting snippet from a Josh Katzenstein article on the Detroit News website:

“Raiola rates as the fourth-best center in the NFL and best in the NFC this season, according to Pro Football Focus analysis. While he’s been historically good as a pass-blocker, Raiola has made strides as a run-blocker, and he and rookie right guard Larry Warford have been responsible for many of the team’s long runs this season.

‘I feel like I’m having one of my best years in my 13 years,’ Raiola said. ‘I’m excited about that, but I start over every week. I start from scratch every week and build it back up.’”

Many fans that I have encountered feel like Raiola has reached the end of his career after this season, and with his contract expiring coupled with the business side of the NFL, I can see that coming true, too. But the sentimental and loyal Lions fan in me wants to see Dominic Raiola stick around to experience the playoffs consistently and maybe even get a Super Bowl ring.

We loyal Lions fans have experienced much suffering and heartbreak through the years, but none of us can say we have been through as much anguish and misery as Dominic Raiola. I can’t think of a more deserving Lions player currently on the roster that I would like to see raise the elusive Lombardi Trophy and share that moment of elation with than the man that anchors the Center of the Lions offense and whose heart beats like a Lion.

As I said at the beginning of this article – I personally hope he is given the opportunity to stay on the roster as a starter beyond this season.

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2 thoughts on “No Respect – Dominic Raiola

  1. Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Reply Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Dec 2, 2013 1:18 PM

    WAY better than what is available at Bleacher Report. Again, well done. Nice table on the history of players, it hits me just how average or poor our guards have been.

    • Jeffrey A. Moore, TSB Lead Writer Reply Jeffrey A. Moore Dec 2, 2013 2:00 PM

      I felt it was important to point that out. The fact that Dom has played with who he has and never quit is a testament to his loyalty and love of Lions football. He could have just went through the motions, made his money and ran, but he has stood in there through everything and still loves his team and teammates. He can be a knucklehead, but so can we all at times. That is life.

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