Romanowski, who has sat out Oakland's last two games, will be reevaluated by the team of Pittsburgh doctors—the same ones who examined former NFL players Hoge, Carson and Young—later this month before deciding what to do. But already last week Romanowski, who has won four Super Bowl rings, sounded like a man moving quickly toward calling it quits after playing in 243 consecutive NFL games. "I'm not ready to make any sort of announcement," he said. "But I know this: I can walk away from this game—if I do—proud that I gave everything I had on every play to be the best I could be."
Says Hoge, the former Steelers and Bears running back who retired in 1994 at the age of 29 after a series of concussions, "Even though no one works out or takes care of himself like Bill, there's no training regimen that can fix a brain injury."
On the flight to Pittsburgh for his examination, Romanowski sat next to Brent Jones, the former 49ers tight end, who was working the Sept. 28 Steelers-Titans game for CBS. Jones, who had eight concussions in his 12-year career, told Romanowski about Young's concussions, which forced Young to retire. 'You don't know which concussion is going to put you over the line," says Jones. "And I said, 'What more can you accomplish?' But when you're such a competitor, like Steve was, or like Bill is, you can't see beyond the next game."
"Here's what it comes down to," Romanowski said. "As a football player you're trained to lie to yourself. You're trained to say, no matter how you feel, 'I'm fine. I'm the iron man.' There have been a few times I've said that to myself. I felt one of these in the Super Bowl, but I didn't say anything. I couldn't say anything. I just fought through it."
Detroit's New Tight End
From Eight-Man To the NFL
Of all the rookies who started opening week, none had as unlikely a road to the NFL as lions tight end Casey Fitzsimmons. Four years ago, when he reported for his freshman year at NAIA Carroll College in Helena, Mont, he was a promising recruit though he'd played only eight-man football in the northern Montana town of Chester (pop. 871). "Two tight ends, two backs, two guards, a center and a quarterback," the 6'3", 252-pound Fitzsimmons says. "It's a really fast game on a smaller field."
Fitzsimmons caught a few scouts' eyes with 78 receptions during his senior year at Carroll, and Detroit signed him as a free agent. He made an impact on special teams, and he climbed past three other players on the depth chart to start in a two-tight-end set against the Cardinals on Sept. 7. The following week against the Packers, he made his first NFL reception, hauling in two passes for 18 yards, and against the 49ers on Sunday he had two catches for 22 yards.
Packers Show Signs of Life
Is the Pack back, just in time for the invasion of the 5-0 Chiefs? It sure looked like it on Sunday, when Green Bay rolled to a 35-13 win over the previously unbeaten Seahawks. After punting on their opening series, the Packers had five consecutive touchdown drives, covering a total of 292 yards in 44 plays. On bootleg passes Brett Favre hit seven of eight for 97 yards and one touchdown....
Hokey Motivational Ploy of the Week: Through his team's 0-4 start, Jaguars rookie coach Jack Del Rio told his players to "keep chopping wood," and he even put a tree stump and an ax in the locker room, encouraging them to take turns chipping at the stump. On Sunday, Jacksonville gave Del Rio the first win of his coaching career, 27-21 over the Chargers.