Again, Williams can't win here. Players who pursue litigation against other players aren't going to find work anywhere else in the game. And that isn't just my opinion. That's another fact. It's a fact stated by George Paton, director of pro personnel for the Miami Dolphins. In his deposition, when asked why the Dolphins didn't sign Williams after he'd worked out for them, Paton first mumbled something about Williams not being in the best shape. But then he added, "He had the litigation thing."

Williams can't have peace. Peace won't be restored by the litigation, regardless of its outcome. Athletes don't sue one another. They don't seek revenge, at least not in a courtroom. They meet, they look one another in the eye, and they own up to what they've done. This assures that football always remains removed from the so-called real world, where no one talks and everyone lives in fear of breaking that code.

Johnnie Cochran
Cochran's representation of O.J. told us the truth about our legal system.

Romanowski can't win here, either. He can't win, even though he's right about one thing: He says this was about respect. On that point, Romanowski's reasoning and logic are absolutely flawless. He hit Williams because the younger, less-experienced Williams not only successfully blocked him on a running play, but also punctuated the act by pushing him. So the accomplished veteran did what all accomplished veterans do in that situation: He confronted Williams and reminded him that the older player is due some respect.

Like I said, he was right.

But the fatal flaw for Romanowski is that he failed to show Williams the same respect. He failed to respect him as a fellow player, and more importantly, as a man.

It's all in Romanowski's videotaped deposition. If the pendulum in this trial swings in Williams' favor, that deposition will have carried the most weight. In it, Romanowski barely conceals his disgust and arrogance. He makes no attempt to feign concern for Williams' welfare, or to question his own actions.

At one point, the prosecutor asks Romanowski: "Do you know what Marcus Williams' condition is?"

Romanowski replies with a condescending shrug: "No. Do you want to tell me?"

It's offensive, and not just to the people in the courtroom, nor just to the judge, the attorneys or the 16 jurors who watched it. It's offensive to everyone who has ever played football.

While I watched Romanowski, I recalled a time when George Seifert, then my coach with the 49ers, complimented Romo by saying that he was "really into it." Seifert meant that Romo was always "present" while he was on the field. He was never one to just go through the motions of being a football player.

When he took the stand on Tuesday afternoon, Romanowski definitely was "present." He broke down as he told the jury that during his career, the better he got, the more he became a target. Was he acting? I doubt it. The pressure here in the courtroom is real, and the consequences are real. I believe Romanowski's emotions are real.

Do I think he should pay? Yes, I think he should pay. He should pay Marcus Williams the respect he deserves, and then these two men should settle it between them. That's all.

Because if money changes hands in this case, we could end up right back here every time someone has a fight. And when that happens, we can't win.

Alan Grant is a former NFL defensive back and the author of "Return to Glory: Inside Tyrone Willingham's Amazing First Season at Notre Dame"


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