Williams placed on injured reserve

Updated: October 16, 2003, 7:08 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Two days after Bill Romanowski seriously injured teammate Marcus Williams during a fight in practice, the Oakland Raiders' controversial linebacker was remorseful and apologetic.

"I hold myself accountable," Romanowski said of his latest episode of bad behavior. "It was a classless move by me."

An apology might not be enough for Williams, whose eye socket was broken in the fight. The reserve tight end was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, Williams' agent Lee Kolligian did not rule out the possibility of Williams pressing charges in the future.

Williams' injury puts the Raiders in a position of reaching an injury settlement with him, ESPN.com's John Clayton reports. Williams is scheduled to make a base salary of $300,000.

If Williams' career is in jeopardy, Kolligian said Tuesday that pressing charges is something Williams would have to think about.

Kolligian confirmed that Williams called the police before he spoke to his client, and that the Raiders have talked to him about handling the incident "in house."

"Is there any excuse for potentially ending a player's football career?" Kolligian said to The Associated Press. "He's kind of waiting to see the extent of the damage. ... We'd rather not (sue), but if it comes down that this man has lost his football career as a result of this incident, then I would hope we can get some compensation."

Romanowski, who played for the Denver Broncos for six years until joining the Raiders last year, ripped off Williams' helmet and punched the reserve tight end in the face, breaking his left orbital bone and chipping his tooth. The fight came at the end of a running play during a 9-on-7 drill Sunday.

Williams, a second-year pro who played mostly on special teams last season, was taken to a local hospital for a series of tests. He saw an eye specialist Monday and was told to rest at home for a week until the swelling goes down, but Williams still has double vision.

While trimming their roster Tuesday, the Raiders placed Williams on injured reserve, ending his season.

"He's a little scared, if anything," Kolligian said. "Essentially he's going to have no film, no playing time to show to market himself to another team next year, if that's necessary."

Romanowski was suspended from Monday's practice and fined an undisclosed amount by the team, but he was back in Alameda on Tuesday. Romanowski said he had spoken with Williams since the incident.

"I made my apologies," Romanowski said. "I said what I had to say to him. I pretty much told everybody what I had to say. You can try to make excuses, but there's no excuses. It just won't happen again."

Romanowski also apologized to the rest of the team prior to Tuesday's practice. Afterward, some Raiders players seemed almost indifferent toward the matter.

"I don't see it as a big problem," linebacker Eric Johnson said. "It's just something that happened. Bill is a part of the family, and so is Marcus. Brothers fight all the time."

NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said the league won't get involved in what it considers a team matter, leaving any discipline to the Raiders.

Romanowski has a history of on-field altercations during his 16-year NFL career -- most notably for spitting on 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes. He has been fined several times by the league.

He has had off-field troubles as well. Romanowski was acquitted in July 2001 on charges of illegally obtaining a prescription diet drug in 1998, and related charges against his wife, Julie, also were dropped.

He signed with Oakland before last season, and he finished second on the team in tackles while helping the Raiders to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1983. His influence on Oakland's defense has been praised, and he hadn't been in any trouble with the Raiders until this incident.

"Everybody knew what they were getting when he (Romanowski) came here," guard Frank Middleton said. "As long as it doesn't happen again, it'll be fine."

Romanowski, who spoke with coach Bill Callahan on Monday night, denied having an anger problem.

"I've never really had problems controlling my temper," Romanowski said. "I am an intense guy on the football field, and sometimes I get carried away. I got carried away two days ago. I'm just going to make the situation right from this point forward. Can I move forward? I have no choice.

"The punishment is not about a fine or about missing practice. It's about what you learn as a person. You've got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I screwed up.' There's two reasons I play this game: One is my love and respect I have for the game, two is to win the Super Bowl, and I can't do it without (teammates). I let my teammates down, and I apologized to them."

Callahan didn't speak to reporters on Tuesday, even though the Raiders made several cuts and roster moves.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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