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Thursday, October 16, 2003
Raiders' Romanowski sued by teammate after August fight


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski was sued Thursday by teammate Marcus Williams, seriously injured when they fought during practice.

The suit, filed in Alameda County court, seeks unspecified damages for alleged battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Romanowski instigated the fight Aug. 24 when he ripped off Williams' helmet and punched him in the face, breaking a bone around his left eye. The fracture put Williams on injured reserve -- ending his season before it began.

No criminal charges were filed. The 37-year-old Romanowski -- known for fanatical behavior during 16 seasons in the NFL -- apologized publicly several days later.

On Thursday, Williams' agent said that was not enough.

"Seeing Bill's somewhat cavalier attitude in terms of apologizing after each incident and saying it wasn't going to happen again and never being taken to task for it was getting underneath Marcus' skin," agent Lee Kolligian said.

It was the latest physical episode involving Romanowski, who missed just one day of practice after the fight. He was fined an undisclosed amount by the Raiders.

The lawsuit includes two graphic photos showing close-ups of Williams' swollen and bleeding eye socket and asks that Romanowski pay for Williams' medical expenses.

Romanowski has not played since a loss Sept. 22 in Denver because of a series of concussions and is considering retirement. He was in Pittsburgh on Thursday being evaluated, Raiders coach Bill Callahan said.

Romanowski has been called a racist for, among other things, spitting on 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes during a game in 1997. He has been called a headhunter for his vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Kerry Collins. Romanowski was fined $42,500 in 1999 alone. Three years ago, he was accused of illegally obtaining prescription diet drugs, charges on which he was later acquitted.

Calls to Romanowski's agent, Tom Condon, were not immediately returned.

Cases in which professional sports teammates sue each other are rare.

"I did not find a situation where one teammate has injured another teammate during a practice in this way," said Williams' lawyer James Brosnahan, who has tussled with the Raiders in court before. "And for good reason. Teammates have to treat each other with respect."

Brosnahan represented the Oakland Coliseum in a case that ended in August when a jury decided stadium officials owed the franchise $34.2 million for luring it back from Los Angeles eight years ago on false promises of a packed stadium. The team had sought closer to $1 billion and though both sides claimed victory, they also said they would appeal.

Romanowski and Williams fought at the end of a running play during a 9-on-7 drill.

Williams, who played mostly on special teams last season, was taken to a local hospital for tests and has been seeing eye specialists since.

"Marcus Williams wants to continue as an Oakland Raider but this assault has put his future in doubt," Brosnahan said. He said that while Williams will lose playing time this year, "the big issue is whether he can come back and play" at all.

Williams' agent said the Raiders have kept tabs on his client.

"They're very interested in Marcus' condition and they have been inquiring about how he's coming along," Kolligian said.

Brosnahan said it would probably be a year before the case goes to trial.