Vernon’s Bill Romanowski hasn’t forgotten about home

We’re going back in time as part of our Greatest Athletes in Connecticut History Tournament, which pits the 64 best athletes in state history in a single-elimination tournament, voted on by you, the fans. Today, we’re talking about one of the most feared linebackers of his time, Bill Romanowski. The following is from a 1998 broadcast of Tailgate ’98:

(WTNH)–Bill Romanowski, of Vernon, Conn., grew up a farm boy and turned into a great football player– he’s a three-time Super Bowl champion. He’s big all over the place, but Romanowski hasn’t forgotten about where he comes from.

NFL fans may know All-Pro linebacker Bill Romanowski as “the spitting, taunting, muscle-enhancing mad-man” of the Denver Broncos. What they may not know is the other side of the guy they call “Romo.”

“To the average person on the street who wants to write me a mean letter and call me a bunch of names, they got their right,” Romanowski said. “Bottom line is people who know me know the kind of guy I am, and that’s what matters to me.”

If you look past the bad, then there’s plenty of good– the weights he donated to the Rockville football high school team, the lights he helped buy for the football field, and the countless number of shoes, shorts and shirts he’s sent to the school.

“Billy has never forgotten where he comes from and he’s never forgotten the things that has made him what he is today,” Rockville High School football coach Tom Dunn said. “One of the things that he’s always done is that he wants to give back to the community. He has a great fondness for Vernon and a great fondness for Rockville, and in particular, Rockville High School.”

“I’m here right now because of high school football, and because of coach Dunn,” Romanowski said. “He’s a guy who made me believe in myself and made me realize that I had the chance to do something special. That holds a special place in my heart. It makes me want to give back.”

While most of his family is scattered from the Vernon area, “Romo” hasn’t lost sight of where the making of a Super Bowl champion started.

“Coach Dunn told me when I was a sophomore [in high school] that I would have the chance to be something special if I worked hard, trained and got my grades up,” Romanowski said. “For me, that’s all it took.”

But for all he’s done, there’s one thing his former coach would really love– upgraded Super Bowl seating.

“I’ve watched all three Super Bowls in my little den on my 12-inch screen, while half of Vernon has been invited to see the game,” Dunn said. “I’ve just seen them on TV– on a black and white TV with a lot of snow and stuff.”

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