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Hard image, soft side

Outside of white lines, Romanowski a different man

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Posted: Saturday January 30, 1999 10:22 PM


MIAMI (CNN/SI) -- The worlds in Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski's universe could not appear more different.

But what drives this ferocious football player also motivates this doting dad. An intensity that you can see in everything he does.

"I think some of it you're born with, some of it you learn a little bit," Romanowski said. "But I think for the most part you are born with it and it just kind of comes out."

On the field, sometimes the intensity overflows.

A player who has won everywhere he's been -- from Boston College, to San Francisco, to Denver -- might be remembered by two examples of his overzealous intensity.

The hit and the spit.

In a preseason game in 1997, Romanowski leveled then-Panther quarterback Kerry Collins helmet-first, breaking Collins' jaw. Less than four months later, Romanowski was caught by Monday Night Football cameras spitting in the face of San Francisco receiver J.J. Stokes.

In two momentary lapses of reason, Romanowski's image of a hard-nosed player turned into a dirty cheap-shot artist -- an image Romanowski knows he will carry for the remainder of his career.

"When emotion is high, logic is low and I did something that was totally out of character of myself and what I believe in and what I'm about," Romanowski said. "I've said my apologies and I'll continue to say them until the day I die."

While Collins and Stokes suffered the consequences of Romanowski's spontaneous combustion, his children -- Dalton and Alexandra -- bask in his slow burn.

Romanowski: "I go out on a football field and I hit people and tackle people. I try to intercept balls. I try to do a lot and it's all with this right here." AP  

"By the time I get home I'm drained," said Romanowski, who had a career-high 7.5 sacks this season. "There's not a lot left and what I do have left I try to give to my wife and my kids because they need me, they need their dad. My wife needs her husband. I definitely turn it off and when I come home I'm dad."

Hit man. Family man. Extremes define Romanowki's existence from field, to playroom to kitchen cabinet.

"This is the only body I have," Romanowski said. "It's not like I sit behind a desk and work on a computer. I go out on a football field and I hit people and tackle people. I try to intercept balls. I try to do a lot and it's all with this right here. If it's not working, I'm not working."

The supplements that fuel Romanowski's mind infiltrate when he closes his eyes. In the weeks leading up to a game like the Super Bowl he visualizes every plausible scenario.

He already has raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy in his head thousands of times.

"I see myself doing great things," said Romanowski, who already has three Super Bowl rings. "I started a couple nights ago. I played the game already a few times and there were some pretty good outcomes.

"Every once in a while at night when I'm dreaming I find myself being the QB too. You have some crazy things happen."

Today's Obscure Statistic: The team that has had the most rushing yards has won 27 of the previous 32 Super Bowls.

A Sign the Super Bowl is Getting Out of Hand: Extra Highland County, Ohio, deputies will be on patrol Sunday, watching cable lines that will carry the telecast of the Super Bowl to thousands homes. Vandals have sabotaged the local cable service five times in the last two weeks.

Quote of the Day: "Contrary to what everybody else thinks, I feel the two best teams are here. Top to bottom -- offense, defense, and special teams -- Atlanta was the best team in the NFC and that's why they're here." -- Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe.

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