Tony Gonzalez and 10 Guys Who Would Love a Free Hit on Bill Romanowski
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Bill Romanowski?
Is it the fact that the former NFL linebacker, who played for four different teams from 1988-2003, was known around the league as one of the dirtiest players in the history of the game?
Or perhaps you think of when he admitted to taking steroids and numerous others drugs during his playing career once he hung up his cleats for good?
Or are you one of the few that actually remembers him as one of the most intimidating linebackers the game as ever seen? And know how great of a player he truly was?
Career stats: 962 tackles, 39.5 sacks, 18 INT, 16 FF in 222 starts over 16-year career
Of course, I think most fans and fellow players would agree with me when I say he will be most remembered for his on-field antics and admittance of steroids and other performance-enhancers throughout his prolonged career.
Here is a rather long list of former players who would likely agree with the above statement, and may even want a piece of Romanowski after what he did to them during his playing days.
Larry Centers, Arizona Cardinals
One of Romo's first huge incidents involving another player on the football field.
Playing for the Eagles at the time, Romanowski kicked fullback Larry Centers (pictured), of the Cardinals, in the head.
This incident, like most of his others, could be seen as a result of what is known as 'Roid rage, but there has been no proof of that being the case in any of the incidents.
He was ejected from the game immediately, and was later fined a sum of $4,500 by the league.
Eddie George, Tennessee Titans
As one of his last on-field antics, Romanowski, in his black and silver uniform in Oakland, grabbed Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George by the facemask, ripped off his helmet, and jabbed his fingers in to his face.
Again, you would suspect perhaps 'Roid rage? But again he was simply fined $5,000 by the league.
What do you say, battle-to-the-death cage match between Romo and Eddie? I'm sure Mr. George would be game for that.
Roland Williams, Oakland Raiders
This one was a little more serious then the previous two on Centers and George.
Before I explain, I would love to point out that Romo and Williams ended up being teammates the following season when Romanowski joined the AFC Champion Raiders in 2002. They fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, but had a great run nevertheless.
Now, on to the incident involving the two future teammates..
Basically, Romanowski knocked him out with a very obvious late hit, and Romanowski was subsequently fined, yet again, by the league. This chunk of money adding up to around $7,500.
Trent Dilfer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Incident: 2001, Broncos vs. Buccaneers
Hits on defenseless quarterbacks in this game are already dangerous enough as it is. They just get even more deadly when a juiced up linebacker practically beheads a player, much smaller in physique, when they are defenseless.
Well, that's exactly what Romo did to Trent Dilfer, then a Buccaneer.
Romo was hit with a hefty $10,000 fine from the NFL, and deservedly so. It wouldn't surprise me if Dilfer still has whiplash from that hit.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs
Tony Gonzalez, 35, will go down as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game of football once he decides to walk away from the game. The 11-time Pro Bowler has put up Hall of Fame numbers since entering the league in 1997.
One moment in his career, however, I'm sure he'd love to forget.
Anger management, anyone?
Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Incident: 1999, Broncos vs. Jaguars
Fred Taylor will go down in history as the Jacksonville Jaguars' best running back (unless Maurice Jones-Drew surpasses him by the end of his career, at least).
But he was victimized in a matchup with the Denver Broncos in a 1999 regular season game. Romanowski executed an illegal hit on Taylor, and was docked $15,000 because of it. The hit was in a losing effort, as the Jags dropped Denver to 4-9, defeating them 27-24.
This was the second of two illegal hits performed by Romo that season (first was on Gonzalez vs. Chiefs).
J.J. Stokes, San Francisco 49ers
The Incident: 1997, Broncos vs. 49ers
Probably one of Romanowski's most famous on-field feuds happened to be between San Francisco 49er receiver J.J. Stokes.
The third of three incidents during the 1997 season, this one came on a Monday night, and cost him $7,500 in fines.
In response to trash-talk coming from Stokes' mouth, Romo famously spit in Stokes' face. He may have had a coming (truth is, we may never know) but spitting in another man's face is likely one of the biggest insults one man can give to another. In the game of football, at least.
Stokes was not appreciative, and I'm sure he would love to get a free hit on Romanowski.
(Note: I was unable to find videos of most of these incidents, but I did happen to find one of the spitting on YouTube. So I included it, rather than simply a picture of J.J. Stokes in action).
Kerry Collins, Carolina Panthers
The Incident: 1997, Broncos vs. Panthers
Do you know how the preseason means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, and it's merely used as a chance for backups to shine and prove they deserve a spot on the roster, while everyday starters get back in to the grove of things?
Yeah, well, apparently Bill never got that memo.
In an August preseason exhibition match between Romo's Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, he executed an illegal hit on Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins. The hit broke Collins jaw and cost Romanowski $20,000.
I just have one question: Was breaking another person's jaw worth $20,000?
Two More for Kicks...
I was unable to find much information on Romanowski's on-field incident with New York Jets' Bryan Cox, in which he supposedly threw a football at him and hit Cox in the crotch area. The amount he was fined was undisclosed, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Romo is likely on Cox's hit-list for that shenanigan.
If you thought Romo only terrorized his opponents, you thought wrong.
In 2003, Romo had a confrontation with teammate Marcus Williams during practice. The former backup tight end for the Oakland Raiders was forced to retire way earlier than expected (he signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent the year before) after Romanowski broke his eye socket with a punch.
The two got in to a quarrel on the practice field as Romanowski preceded to take of Williams' helmet and throw the punch.
Whether Williams brought this on himself or not, Romanowski was wrong in his actions, and Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott (both there when it happened) backed up Williams.
Williams took Romanowski to court for $3.4 million, though he only ended up getting $340,000 after the judge's ruling. Williams said it wasn't about the money, he just wanted to prove "what was right and what was wrong."
What We Have Learned...
I think it's safe to say that Romanowski, arguably the most controversial player in the history of the NFL, will go down as one of the most hated players in the game.
And if he isn't one of the best cheap-shot artists out there, then I must not know what the term is truly defined as.
Watch your back, Romo, you may be on a few players' hit-lists.