No timetable for Romo

"I've played through 16 years of a lot. Is it the first time I've really felt vulnerable? Absolutely." -- Raiders LB Bill Romanowski


Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski has been like a gladiator throughout his 16-year NFL career.

            Well, perhaps until now.

            Romanowski, who missed the first game of his career Sunday with a concussion, has begun to feel a sense of vulnerability for the first time in his career and has openly entertained the thought of retirement after sustaining three concussions over the course of four weeks.

            He had dressed in 243 consecutive games and made 139 consecutive starts before missing the Raiders 34-31 overtime win over San Diego Sunday. Romanowski spoke afterward of severe post-concussion symptoms that have prompted him to consult with medical specialists across the country and the idea of retirement suddenly emerged.

            Romanowski, however, said Wednesday that there is no timetable for his potential decision to retire.

            "You really, in this business, learn how to trick yourself and how to lie," Romanowski said. "You always have to be ready for the next play. You have to be ready for the next game. The last several weeks, I've been more honest with myself. That's when you start going back over different things, different personality changes."

Medical sources familiar with Romanowski's diagnosis indicate that the damage lies primarily in the rear of his skull, the brain-stem reticular formation that controls balance and equilibrium. Romanowski has not suffered symptoms of short- or long-term memory loss but repeated blows to that part of the brain have been enough to raise a red flag.

            Romanowski has consulted several doctors, including specialists from Denver and a group from the University of Pittsburgh. Romanowski indicated that he has sustained about 10 known concussions over the course of his career.

            "I've played through 16 years of a lot," Romanowski said. "Is it the first time I've really felt vulnerable? Absolutely."

            Romanowski added that he would seek out the advice of two quarterbacks he has played with and against – Dallas' Troy Aikman and San Francisco's Steve Young. Like Romanowski, Young and Aikman sustained several concussions over the course of their career.

            "It's going to be up to me," said Romanowski, who was Young's teammate in San Francisco from 1988-1994. "In time, I will probably talk to some people and see what kind of effects they had. … The cup with me is always half full. If I had to walk away, I've given the game all I could. I don't have any regrets. I wouldn't change a thing as far as what I did to prepare."



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