Former NFL defensive standout Bill Romanowski's playing days may be behind him, but he's still running fast -- only in different circles.
Romanowski, the only linebacker to start in five Super Bowl games over the course of a 16-year pro career, joined the NASCAR circuit before the season as a minority owner with the No. 30 Swan Racing team and driver David Stremme.
Since his retirement after the 2003 NFL season, Romanowski formed his own nutrition company, Nutrition53. His Lean1weight-loss protein shake was the title sponsor of last Saturday's pole day activity at Sonoma Raceway, where he honored Coors Light Pole Award winner Jamie McMurray with his trophy in Victory Lane.
Romanowski took time out from the festivities to speak with NASCAR.com.
Have you had many in-person experiences so far with NASCAR?
Absolutely. I became a part owner in Swan Racing this past year so this is kind of my first experience with NASCAR. I've been to an Indianapolis 500, I've been to some Trans-Am Series races with Greg Pickett and the Pickett racing team, but this year has been mind-blowing for me, getting involved with NASCAR, being a sponsor with our Lean1 product with Nutrition 53. It's been exciting, awesome. I think what makes this special is the fans. This really is about the fans and David Stremme, our driver, is a great guy. I really enjoy making a difference in the fans' lives.
I know there's a lot of fitness and nutrition involved in drivers and teams and their regimens. Is this sort of a natural fit for you?
It is, and we just started working with David and he's been losing weight and lean-ing down. We're getting product to some of the other teams little by little, but there's a part of David that doesn't want to share his secret.
Speaking of the fan atmosphere, did you see a comparable one when you were playing football?
I tell you what, at Daytona (earlier this season), it was unbelievable. And when they say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines' and they start that first lap, the butterflies come back and they're very similar to game day. When you're singing the National Anthem, ready to run down on kickoff, it's very much the same.
Do you see a lot of the same team concept with NASCAR and football, a lot of parallels?
Absolutely. I mean, from the pit crew to the mechanics to the guys who are spotting up above, everybody has to work together and it has to be a team. The ones that win are the ones with the best teams.
Have you angled in on David to say, 'hey, if you'd like to give me a turn ... ?'
You know what? Not yet. I was going to be in the car a few months ago when they were in North Carolina and had a practice day, but I wasn't able to get on because there was rain. It cleared up in the afternoon, but I had left.
Do you miss football, looking back at your career?
I miss Sundays. I don't miss Monday mornings -- they were brutal. I miss my teammates, of course. That camaraderie, there's nothing like it. I miss the locker room. But getting involved in NASCAR, it's different but similar and still gives you that team spirit.
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Bill Romanowski
- David Stremme