FORMER NFL LINEBACKER BILL ROMANOWSKI RECOUNTS
THE "AWFUL" TIME HE PURPOSEFULLY
BROKE AN OPPONENT'S BONE ON "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
He Also Reveals Having Residual Effects from Concussions That Could be Permanent and That He Took Steroids and Human Growth Hormone He Received From Victor Conte
In a brutal account of his violent days as one of the NFL's most feared players, Bill Romanowski says he once purposefully broke the finger of a running back in an incident he calls "awful." The former star linebacker recounts this story and makes other revelations -- including steroid on a rebroadcast of use and how numerous concussions affect his health -- to Scott Pelley for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday Oct. 16 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Romanowski writes about his 16 seasons in the NFL in an upcoming book, Romo. My Life on the Edge. The finger incident was during a playoff game against the New York Giants; the running back was Dave Meggett. "I am pissed...down there just trying to rip that ball out of his hands," says Romanowski. "All I could get was a finger and, at the time, I thought it was his, but whatever it was...I just snapped it and I could hear a scream at the bottom of the pile," he remembers. He had no regrets at the time, he tells Pelley, because inflicting that kind of injury meant he had diminished his opponent's effectiveness. He looks back on it differently, however. "That's awful," he now says.
What many believe was also awful -- and the NFL wound up fining him $20,000 for-- was a hit on Carolina Panthers quarterback Kerry Collins that broke his jaw. This violent moment is not one he regrets, but savors to this day. "One of the best hits of my career," he tells Pelley. "It was a perfect hit."
There were many perfect hits over a career lasting 271 games, hits that not only injured his opponents, but left Romanowski with as many as 20 "documented" concussions and brain damage that could be permanent. Today, the injured part of his brain shows profound slowing of cognitive function and doctors say progress is slow, but that he may improve with time.
"The concussions were racking up. Every time I would get a good hit on somebody, I'd be dazed, confused, my memory was starting to go," he says. The last good hit, in a game in 2003, put him in the hospital and ended his career, a fact he could not face then and still has difficulty with now. "I think you have these illusions, dreams, nightmares that maybe you can still do it," he tells Pelley. "I never cleaned out my locker in Oakland," Romanowski says while wiping away tears. "No, never dealt with it."
Just as painful for Romanowski was answering his young son's questions about the steroid scandal he now admits to being a part of. He says he took illegal steroids from spring 2001 to fall 2003 and got them from Victor Conte, head of the infamous Bay Area Lab Cooperative that supplied dietary supplements, including steroids. He says he also took human growth hormone, also illegal, from Conte, but found it not as effective as other drugs. "I took [human growth hormone] for a brief period and ...I definitely didn't receive what I got out of THG," he says, referring to another drug he got from Conte. Speculation was so rampant about his drug use, it reached even his young son. "I had...a little boy who looks up to his dad and he said, 'Dad, do you do drugs?' That one hurt more than anything," he says.
"Your daddy did a lot of things to deal with the pain of the game" is the answer Romanowski says he gave his son. He tells Pelley he put his desire to win ahead of his own sense of right and wrong. "I compromised my morality to get ahead, to play another year, to play two more years, to win another Super Bowl," says Romanowski.