Vile move scars career Broncos: Bill Romanowski's great expectoration on 'Monday Night Football' has shifted his story from one of an intense linebacker who has high expectations to one of a man who is out of control

Super Bowl XXXII

January 21, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- The spittle landed on the face of the San Francisco 49ers' J.J. Stokes, but the entire episode remains stuck on the Denver Broncos' Bill Romanowski.


Unknowingly, Romanowski had accomplished what the Denver front office wanted him to do when they signed him two years ago as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles. Romanowski came into the league with a reputation as a leader and he proved it when he started the first game he ever player in as rookie for the San Francisco 49ers.

Romanowski was part of two Super Bowl victories in his first two years with the 49ers. The Broncos wanted him to start at inside linebacker while teaching the younger players at the position such as Aldridge and John Mobley.

"With Bill, you learn that he plays every play like it's his last," defensive end Alfred Williams said. "It's not just a game, but a passion. He is a tough guy, very nasty and I like that. Bill is just as intense in practice as he is in games."

Once when he was playing with the 49ers, Romanowski crushed Jerry Rice after a reception in practice which resulted in Romanowski being attacked by the entire offensive line. He once was thrown out of a 49ers practice by coach George Seifert for an attack on offensive tackle Bubba Paris from behind while Paris was returning to the huddle. Two years ago, he was ejected from a game for kicking Arizona Cardinals fullback Larry Centers in the head five times. After missing several tackles on Mark Brunell in the AFC championship game a year ago, a frustrated Romanowski hung up a gigantic picture of the Jacksonville quarterback on the wall of his weight room.

"The guy breathes football," defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said of the 6-foot-4, 241-pound Romanowski. "He isn't overly big, but throws his body all over the field and that requires him to play with such great intensity. He is willing to put his body on the line."

Mobley said: "Actually, in the huddle, he is pretty cool. But by the time he gets up to the line of scrimmage, he is all worked up and sometimes forgets his plays."

But Romanowski still makes his share of them. He was second on the team in tackles during the regular season with 117 (77 nTC solo) and he made the Pro Bowl team in 1996.

"It's hard to see him hurting and to see that people could talk so critically of him," his wife, Julie, said. She occasionally has had to duck a forearm across her head when Romanowski relives some play in his sleep.

"Last year, he was the Golden Boy who turned the defense around. And now he is this despicable person. He usually wakes up with a smile on his face. He can't wait to go to work, to play football."

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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