Though Antwaan Randle El is far from the first player to come out and say it, this one hits pretty close to home. In a great set of feature articles by The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which you should definitely check out, Randle El admits he’s suffering from the toll playing football took on his body. And if he could go back and avoid football, he would.
“I would play baseball. I got drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round, but I didn’t play baseball…I love the game of football. But right now, I could still be playing baseball,” he said.
Randle El was drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft. He played in 143 games, catching 370 passes for over 4400 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding another six touchdowns on special teams. He is arguably best remembered for his touchdown pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl 40.
Now 36, the glory days are over and the pain suffered from the game is what remains.
“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,” he told the Post Gazette, fearful of CTE that has affected so many players after their career is over.
He also said he has trouble getting up and down the stairs from the knee injuries he suffered throughout his nine year career, five of which came with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent 2002-2005 with Pittsburgh, spending the next four years with the Washington Redskins before coming back for one final season in Pittsburgh.
Despite the safety measures, in rule and equipment, implemented, Randle El knows there’s no way to avoid concussions and the violent nature of the game.
“Football players are in a car wreck every week.”
On Christmas, the movie Concussion was released, centering around Pittsburgh and the death of center Mike Webster, who suffered severely from CTE.