Antwaan Randle El told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he regrets ever playing the game of football, and that if he had a chance to do it all over again, he would have chosen baseball instead. Randle El was a star quarterback at Indiana University and then drafted as a wide receiver by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002. He opted for the college route, despite being a 14th round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft. So, he certainly had the ability, but he definitely made his mark on the game of football, as well.
Antwaan Randle El said that if he opted for a glove and a bat over shoulder pads and a helmet, his career might still be in full swing.
“If I could go back (to playing football), I wouldn’t. 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.”
Antwaan Randle El’s football career didn’t suffer due to second-guessing his decision. The second-round pick adapted seamlessly to his new position and ended up becoming a first team All-Pro in 2005. He won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers, and in the process, became the only wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, a highlight that still stands today. His performance as a Steeler earned him a seven-year, $31 million free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins in 2006, but the punishment Antwaan Randle El received on the gridiron may be sticking with him just as much as the money he earned.
“I have to come down (the steps) sideways sometimes, depending on the day. Going up is easier actually than coming down. I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that. 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 Antwaan Randle El’s post-football career, he helped found a Christian High School in Virginia, where he also created a football program. However, it was deemed too expensive to continue and the sport was dropped just two years after inception. Aside from the financial concerns, Randle El conveyed his fears from a safety point of view.
“The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse. t’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.”
Antwaan Randle El, 36, is hurting physically as well as mentally. He went as far as to say that he wouldn’t be surprised if football weren’t around in 20, 25 years, which has echoed other former player’s sentiments recently. Concussions and dementia have been at the forefront of discussions surrounding the game of football, and now Antwaan Randle El, a former All-Pro and champion, is letting it be known that he regrets ever playing.
[Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]