OAKLAND, Calif. -- Marcus Williams relived for jurors
Wednesday the face-smashing punch teammate Bill Romanowski leveled
on him during a practice drill that ended the former Oakland Raiders tight end's career after two seasons.
The 27-year-old Williams then told jurors why he was suing
Romanowski in state court for millions of dollars in damages. The
Aug. 24, 2003 attack, he testified, broke his left eye socket,
shortened his memory and gave him double vision and depression.
"I felt that that wasn't right. That wasn't a fight, that was
an assault," he said as jurors and Romanowski listened to his testimony in a cramped courtroom.
Williams said after he blocked Romanowski during a running
drill, Romanowski grabbed his helmet and then ripped it off before
the crushing blow was delivered.
As his helmet was coming off, he said, "I'm thinking in my head
what the hell is he doing. The next thing I know I'm hit."
Hours before Williams took the stand, Romanowski finished his
second day of testimony. After admitting that he punched Williams,
Romanowski testified he's not sure how he would react again under
the same circumstances.
"Would you do it again?" Williams' attorney, James Brosnahan,
"If I was pushed in the back when I was playing football, I
don't know what I would do, sir," Romanowski replied.
Romanowski, 38, nearly came to tears on the witness stand
Tuesday. He told jurors he didn't remember much about what happened
during the practice session nearly two years ago, but said a fight
broke out after Williams pushed him during practice.
Williams related to jurors how making it to the NFL had
fulfilled a lifelong quest that ended with Romanowski's punch.
"I felt like I was living a dream every day," Williams said.
He testified his life has now turned into nightmare, with no
real hopes of playing football while at the same time seeing
Romanowski in his dreams. "It's just him grabbing my helmet,"
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.
Williams, who was in his second season with the team, is seeking
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.
Romanowski said it was a legitimate fight resulting from
Williams pushing him in the back.
After a 16-year NFL career, Romanowski -- released last March by
the Raiders after failing a physical -- 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.
Meanwhile, Williams' attorney introduced into evidence a letter to Romanowski from the NFL dated Sept. 20, 2004.
Only parts of that letter were read in open court, but Romanowski acknowledged that the letter was notification from the NFL that he was being suspended for four regular season games because of something that occurred in August 2003, which based on NFL guidelines indicates a violation of the league's substance policy.
The letter also indicated that Romanowski initially filed an appeal but later withdrew it -- choosing, instead, to retire. Romanowski's decision to retire is why the suspension was never served.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.