Closing statements expected Thursday

Updated: March 17, 2005, 12:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Testimony in the Bill Romanowski beating trial concluded Wednesday after the linebacker's former teammate, Jerry Rice, told jurors that he did not approve of Romanowski smashing the face and ending the career of Marcus Williams during a practice drill.

"No, I wouldn't condone that at all. That's not what I would do," said Rice, a 20-year NFL veteran and former Raiders wide receiver.

But on cross examination, Romanowski's attorney, Jeffrey Springer, asked Rice whether he saw the incident that left Williams' left eye socket crushed, ending the 27-year-old's bid to make the Raiders as a special teams player for the second year in a row.

"No, I just heard about it. I didn't see anything,"Rice testified.

After Rice and the jury left the courtroom, the lawyers for each side argued for the admission of previously excluded evidence about a steroid test that Romanowski had failed, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Chronicle reported Williams' lead attorney, James Brosnahan, said in court Romanowski had used his Fifth-Amendment right against self-incrimination in an earlier deposition when he was asked whether he had used steroids, specifically THG, around the time he punched Williams.

Attorneys are expected to make their closing statements in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday, 17 days after the trial began and after dozens of witnesses testified live or via taped videos.

Williams told jurors last week that on Aug. 24, 2003, Romanowski assaulted him after a practice drill by ripping off his helmet and leveling a devastating blow that he says has left him brain-damaged, with double vision and other side effects.

Romanowski, 38, told jurors that it was a legitimate fight among athletes playing a violent sport. He said Williams provoked the fight by pushing him in the back after a practice play was over.

Williams played in 13 games as an undrafted free agent as a rookie during the team's Super Bowl season. He was used primarily on special teams. He is seeking millions in damages from Romanowski for alleged battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Raiders have claimed they are not responsible for any damages and fined Romanowski $60,000. Romanowski was not charged with a crime.

After a 16-year NFL career, Romanowski, who was released last year by the Raiders, has a long history of 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.