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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lions profile: Raiola has island fever

Sunday, November 23, 2008
By Brian Vanochten
The Grand Rapids Press

ALLEN PARK -- A question and answer session with Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola.

Q: You're one of three Hawaii natives on the roster. Is there a special camaraderie among the Hawaiian players, including defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis (Oahu) and middle linebacker Jordon Dizon (Kauai), in the locker room?

A: We're all from the same place. Once we get into the season, though, we don't really talk about it. The center for the Chicago Bears, Olin Kreutz, and I grew up together and went to high school together. We've known each other since we were 5 or 6 years old, so I think that's pretty neat. It's not that normal -- a player from Hawaii -- but there's a few guys from Hawaii in the NFL.

Q: Do you surf?

A: I don't really surf at all. I body surf or use a body board. I didn't want to use one of those long boards, fall off and get hurt -- and then miss one of my Little League games. I never really learned how to surf. We spent a lot of time in the ocean because the water is so nice there, so I did a lot of Boogie Boarding and body surfing. I get back to Hawaii about once each year in the offseason.

Q: Your childhood heroes?

A: Being from Hawaii, I never really grew up watching any one team. It's just a different place to be from. We didn't really follow much. My dad was a good athlete in his own right. He went to the University of Miami (Fla.) and played nose tackle, so I guess I always wanted to go to college like him and play football like him.

Q: Best part about the NFL?

A: For me, it's still going out and competing every Sunday with the rest of the guys. Some people say it's the money. I think it's just the experience in the locker room. The experience hasn't been that good this season. The results haven't been that good in the eight years since I've been here, but it's more about the friendships you make with other guys in the locker room.

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