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Week 6: Lions could learn something about leadership from Red Wings

October 10, 2013 - Matt Wellens

In hockey, being a captain means something special. No one in that sport takes wearing the ‘C’ lightly.

That’s especially true with the Detroit Red Wings, where players like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrick Zetterberg have worn the ‘C’ on their chest with pride in recent years and set a gold standard for the post.

The same can not be said for the Wing’s neighbors down the street at Ford Field, however.

Not when you let players like Ndamukong Suh and Dominic Raiola wear a ‘C’ on their chest.

Suh is one of six current captains for the Detroit Lions while Raiola was one of four captains for six consecutive seasons through 2011.

Suh, a rookie captain, has had his issues wearing the ‘C’ so far this year, like the illegal block on Minnesota Vikings center Joe Sullivan in Week 1 or the elbow to the head of Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Eric Winston in Week 2.

That’s nothing compared to what Raiola did in Week 5, however, or what the Lions’ center has done in previous seasons wearing a ‘C’ on his jersey.

As captain in 2008 and 2010, Raiola was fined each season for vulgar gestures made toward fans in the crowd, with the 2008 incident happening at Ford Field.

On Sunday, Raiola struck again — this time without the ‘C‘ — at Lambeau Field where he was accused of verbally abusing the University of Wisconsin marching band with vulgar and homophobic language prior to the National Anthem.

After the Lions apologized for Raiola on Tuesday, with a written statement and promise of significant donation to the band’s fund, the former Lions’ captain finally faced the media Wednesday.

Raiola denied using a gay slur, but said there was jawing back and forth between him and the band members. He refused to go into any more detail and said he is moving on.

The Lions appear ready to move on as well, with no further repercussions.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed this franchise for the past five seasons, not with a loose cannon like Jim Schwartz leading as head coach.

The Red Wings, winners of four Stanley Cups since Yzerman was named captain in 1986, would never let someone like Schwartz coach the team or let a person who harasses fans, like Raiola, dare wear the ‘C’ on the red and white.

So why are the Lions’ letting these people lead their organization?

If the Ford family wants to taste victory like the Illitch family has so many times, maybe they should start picking better leaders of the Lions.

Now on to my picks, which each week will include a short analysis on the Packers’ and Lions’ games, plus the primetime games on NFL Network, NBC and ESPN.

Week 6

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m., FOX

The Packers are winless on the road this season after four games while the Ravens showed they still have some life by beating the Miami Dolphins on the road. No Clay Matthews for a month spells trouble for Green Bay. Ravens 20, Packers 18

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., 1320 AM/1240 AM

The two-plus-game Brian Hoyer era may go down as one of the greatest in Cleveland Browns history. Now it’s back to Brandon Wheeden at QB in Cleveland. Lions 21, Browns 13

New York Giants at Chicago Bears, 8:25 p.m., NFL Network

When it comes to awkward facial expressions — whether it be after a touchdown or interception — there’s few better than the Bears’ Jay Cutler and the Giants’ Eli Manning. Bears 18, Giants 10

Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Redskins owner Dan Synder should probably stop penning open letters defending his team’s racist name, and start worrying more about his permanently scarred and struggling quarterback. Cowboys 31, Redskins 13

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers, 8:40 p.m., ESPN

I’ll take Philip Rivers on my fantasy team any day, but in the real world, Andrew Luck is who I want leading my team if Aaron Rodgers isn’t available of course. Colts 27, Chargers 21

Here’s the rest of my picks with winners in bold:

Bengals at Bills

Rams at Texans

Panthers at Vikings

Raiders at Chiefs

Steelers at Jets

Eagles at Buccaneers

Jaguars at Broncos

Titans at Seahawks

Saints at Patriots

Cardinals at 49ers

Last week: 7-7.

Overall: 43-34.

Matt Wellens is Sports Editor of the Mining Journal. Check out his Armchair QB column every Thursday in at and follow him on Twitter at Email him at



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FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2013, file photo, Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola watches during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit. Raiola apologized Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, for "unacceptable" remarks he made to the University of Wisconsin band over the weekend as his team moved swiftly to defuse an off-the-field distraction. Band members said Raiola verbally abused them at Lambeau Field, where they were performing before and after Sunday's Lions-Packers game. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)