Tha Sports Junkies 101

Antwaan Randle El Regrets Playing Football


Pittsburgh, PA – Former NFL wide receiver Antwaan Randle El says he regrets playing football, in particular because he has trouble walking down stairs.

“I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day,” Randle El said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on former Steelers Super Bowl winners. “Going up is easier actually than coming down.”

Randle El will forever be remembered as the only wideout to throw a TD pass in a Super Bowl (2006). Coming out of college he was an elite quarterback at Indiana and was drafted as a wide receiver by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002.

Despite having a successful NFL career and in the wake of the concision era, he wishes he had chosen another sport that wasn’t football.

“If I could go back, I wouldn’t,” he said to the Post-Gazette. “I would play baseball. I got drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round, but I didn’t play baseball because of my parents. They made me go to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game of football. But right now, I could still be playing baseball.”

The 36-year-old says he has mental limitations to go with his physical issues.

“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that,'” Randle El said to the newspaper. “I’ll ask her three times the night before and get up in the morning and forget. Stuff like that. I try to chalk it up as I’m busy, I’m doing a lot, but I have to be on my knees praying about it, asking God to allow me to not have these issues and live a long life. I want to see my kids raised up. I want to see my grandkids.”

Since his early retirement in 2012, Randle El started a Christian high school in Ashburn, Virginia. He has served as the school’s athletic director, and, through his El Foundation, five underprivileged students now are on scholarship there. Randle El started the football program, but later decided to drop the sport because it was too expensive. The decision did not sit well with several parents, to the point that the school lost about 15 students because of it.

“The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse,” he said to the newspaper. “It’s a tough pill to swallow because I love the game of football. But I tell parents, you can have the right helmet, the perfect pads on, and still end up with a paraplegic kid.

“There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.”

Ironically, Randle El declarations about his health are coming out the same city that the movie Concussion, starred by Will Smith, is set from and where Dr. Bennet Omalu fought against efforts by the NFL to suppress his research on the brain damage suffered by professional football players.

Randle El ended his interview by saying, “Right now,” he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years.”

Photo credit Keith Allison via Flickr

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