Williams sought millions but pleased with verdict

Updated: March 23, 2005, 11:38 AM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Marcus Williams won his case against former Oakland Raiders teammate Bill Romanowski. He just won't be receiving the millions he was seeking after his face was smashed by a punch two years ago.

 Marcus Williams
Williams

A jury ordered Romanowski to pay Williams $340,000 in damages Tuesday for injuring the tight end during a practice drill in 2003. Williams was awarded $40,000 in medical expenses and $300,000 for lost wages -- about one season's salary.

"I just hope it tells him to at least monitor his actions somewhat, be more responsible and think more about what you're doing," Williams said.

Williams said the attack on Aug. 24, 2003, broke his left eye socket, shortened his memory, gave him double vision and depression -- and ended his career after less than two seasons.

Jurors reached their verdict after deliberating for two days. Romanowski showed no visible emotion as the verdict was read, but his wife gave him a hug.

Neither side said it plans to appeal the verdict.

"If Marcus Williams would have come to us then and said write us a check for $340,000, this would have been done in a heartbeat," said Romanowski's attorney, Jeffrey Springer. "There was never an opportunity in this case to settle this case or resolve it for anything other than millions of dollars."

During the trial, Williams testified that after he blocked Romanowski during a running drill, Romanowski grabbed his helmet and then ripped it off before the crushing blow was delivered.

"We are very pleased with the verdict because it establishes that there are limits to the violence in football," said Williams' attorney, James Brosnahan.

Romanowski told jurors he did punch Williams in the face, but didn't remember much more about the fight.

"There was a fight that broke out," he testified. "My reaction was a reaction from being pushed in the back."

Romanowski did not speak after the verdict was read.

Williams also testified that his life has now turned into nightmare, with no real hopes of playing football while at the same time seeing Romanowski in his dreams.

"He is satisfied that we established what we set out to establish ... that what Romanowski did was wrong," Brosnahan said. "You have to respect the jury because they listen carefully to all the evidence."

Williams, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, played in 13 games as a rookie during Oakland's Super Bowl season. He was used primarily on special teams but was trying to earn a regular position before the injury.

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

Romanowski, a married father of two, is known for fanatical behavior during his career and has been fined more than $100,000.

Romanowski, released by the Raiders last March after failing a physical, has a long history of scrapes with opponents and others. One of his more well-publicized confrontations 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.

"Bill is relieved and pleased and has always felt badly about the incident and offered to help Marcus out," Springer said. "Instead, Marcus filed a lawsuit and tried to get a payday. When you add up all the costs to get there, this is anything but a payday."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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