Despite a nine-year NFL career that included 4,467 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns and a Super Bowl victory, former Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El wouldn’t play football if he could go back in time.
In a series from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Randle El expressed his regret with his decision to play football professionally, and wished he would have chosen a different route for his professional life.
“If I could go back, I wouldn’t (play football),” Randle El said. “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.”
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Randle El Told the Gazette he is dealing with several difficulties in his retirement. He has difficulty walking down stairs, and explained that it is actually easier for him to walk down the stairs sideways. But in addition to his physical detriments, Randle El also says he is struggling mentally.
“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that,’ ” Randle El said. “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.”
In 2013, Randle El sued the NFL, alleging that the league "has done everything in its power to hide the issue and mislead players concerning the risks associated with concussions," according to The Village Voice. In 2015, Randle El was one of the 5,000 players that received a cut of the $900 million settlement in the NFL concussion lawsuit.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s project, Randle El helped start a Christian high school in Ashburn, Va., where he serves as the athletic director. Originally, the school, called the Virginia Academy, had a football team, but after two years Randle El chose not to fund the program due to the expenses. But as an added bonus, Randle El knows the decision is ultimately protecting high school-aged kids.
With NFL’s growing safety concerns, Randle El believes it is a possibility the NFL will no longer exist down the line.
“Right now,” he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years.”