Antwaan Randle El Comments on NFL's Impact on His Life, Choice to Play Football

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle-El sits on the sidelines in the final minute of a 35-3 Steelers win over the Oakland Raiders in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Former NFL wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who last played with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, does not have fond memories of his playing days with the benefit of hindsight.   

Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Jacob Emert of the Washington Post), Randle El said he wished he had played baseball coming out of college: "If I could go back, I wouldn’t [play football]. 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."

Randle El said there are certain days he walks down stairs "sideways" because of the toll football took on him. 

Randle El, who is 36 years old and spent nine seasons in the NFL with Pittsburgh and Washingtonwinning a Super Bowl with the Steelers after the 2005 seasontold the Post-Gazette he has difficulty remembering things: 

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.

A former NFL second-round pick, Randle El was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school in 1997. He also played baseball (2000) and basketball (1998-99) while attending Indiana University, but he became a full-time football player in his final season before getting drafted by the Steelers. 

Randle El was never seriously injured during his career, as he only missed one regular-season game in nine years. But the physical toll of playing the sport for so many years dating back to high school and college has clearly had a profound effect on his life outside of football.