With former teammate/abuser Barrett Robbins in a hospital bed and longtime associate Victor Conte being raided by the FBI, it would take some doing to say that Bill Romanowski is having the worst week of the trio. So we’ll let the S.F. Chronicle’s Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams say so.
Suspected steroid use by former Oakland Raider Bill Romanowski has become an issue in a $3.8 million lawsuit brought against the linebacker for allegedly attacking a teammate and ending his football career.
Romanowski, a longtime advocate of performance-enhancing substances who has been implicated in the BALCO steroids scandal, punched Marcus Williams, then a Raiders tight end, in the left eye on Aug. 24, 2003, during a fight on the practice field.
In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Williams says he suffered a career-ending brain injury from the blow, and his legal team — in an effort to link ” ‘roid rage” to the fight — has pressed Romanowski, the Raiders and the National Football League for information about the linebacker’s possible use of steroids.
In the Williams lawsuit, Romanowski has refused to answer questions about steroid use, and he asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a pretrial deposition, one of his lawyers said in court last month. His attorneys have fought attempts by Williams’ lawyers to gather information related to steroids, citing Romanowski’s privacy rights and a lack of relevance to the lawsuit.
But in a recent ruling, Judge Steven Brick ordered Romanowski to answer questions about steroid use in the month leading up to the fight. The judge also refused to block Williams from subpoenaing the Raiders and the NFL for any documents showing that Romanowski was using the drugs during that time.
Zealously attentive to his body, Romanowski (above) at one point in his NFL career employed five chiropractors, four acupuncturists, three nutritionists, two massage therapists, a speed coach and a high-performance trainer at an annual cost of $200,000. He also became known for his interest in nutritional supplements — he kept a fishing-tackle box full of pills in the locker room — and for his reckless on-field behavior.
In court documents, Williams also requested information about volatile incidents that led to Romanowski’s bad-boy reputation, including his allegedly attacking Jerry Rice and Bubba Paris, then his 49er teammates, during practices in 1989. Other episodes cited include Romanowski spitting in 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes’ face in 1997, breaking Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins’ jaw in 1997 and kicking Arizona running back Larry Centers in the head in 1995.