Romanowski fined, suspended for fight

Updated: August 26, 2003, 2:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski was suspended from Monday's practice and fined an undisclosed amount after punching and seriously injuring teammate Marcus Williams during a fight in practice a day earlier.

Bill Romanowski
Romanowski

Williams' left orbital bone was broken and his nose was damaged, coach Bill Callahan said. Williams reportedly lost a tooth, as well.

"It doesn't matter who it is," Callahan said when asked whether he was disappointed in Romanowski. "When it gets to that severity, I'm going to level a discipline. It goes beyond the game. Once it's beyond the respect and dignity of a player, it's a tragedy."

Williams, who was a 14-game backup last year, will be sidelined four-to-six weeks, which puts the Raiders in position of reaching an injury settlement with him, ESPN's John Clayton reports. Williams is scheduled to make a base salary of $300,000.

Williams' agent, Lee Kolligian, told the San Francisco Chronicle that his client filed a report with Alameda police after the incident, but Alameda Police Lt. Jim Brock told the newspaper that his department would not pursue the matter after speaking with Williams on Monday afternoon. Following a phone conversation with Callahan on Sunday night, Williams told the investigator he did not want to pursue a criminal complaint against Romanowski.

He said he kind of overreacted [by calling the police]. As far as we're concerned, the case is closed.
Alameda Police Lt. Jim Brock

"He said he kind of overreacted [by calling the police]," Brock told the Chronicle on Monday. "He said he wanted to keep it on the field. As far as we're concerned, the case is closed."

On The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio on Tuesday, Kolligian did not rule out the possibility of Williams eventually pressing charges.

Williams underwent several tests at a local hospital before being released Sunday night.

"I believe we're more concerned with Marcus' health right now and how he comes out of it the next few days," Kolligian told the Chronicle. "I'm hoping there isn't any permanent damage to him. After that, we'll have to see the extent of his damages and how he feels."

Callahan met with Romanowski for three hours on Monday night after practice. Romanowski didn't speak with reporters as he drove up to the team's training complex.

Romanowski is entering his 16th NFL season and second with the Raiders, who signed him as a free agent before their run to the AFC championship last fall. He has appeared in five Super Bowls and played in 240 consecutive regular-season games.

He was second on the team in tackles last year while helping Oakland's defense improve to fourth overall against the run.

But Romanowski has a long history of violent scrapes with opponents and others. One of his more well-publicized incidents came in December 1997, when he spit in the face of San Francisco 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes while playing for the Denver Broncos in a nationally televised game.

Romanowski was fined $7,500 by the NFL -- one of several fines for his behavior during his career.

Williams is in his second year with Oakland after playing in 13 games as an undrafted free agent last season. He played primarily on special teams last season, but was trying to earn a more regular position this year.

"I talked about fighting on the first day of training camp," Callahan said. "It's an intolerable offense. I think everybody understands how I feel. I'm really disappointed. It was really an unfortunate incident that kind of took the edge off practice."

The Raiders play their final preseason game Thursday against the Cowboys in Dallas.

NFL senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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