We are all in one way or another affected by those around us, many of whom we don’t get to choose for ourselves. This applies most viscerally to family, particularly to biological family, and the natural bonds that come entangled around you at birth.
Whatever your family goes through, you go through, and part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ extended family is going through quite a bit right now. Former wide receiver Antwaan Randle El just witnessed his brother, Marcus, being found guilty of two murder charges.
Himself a former football player for the Wisconsin Badgers as a quarterback and wide receiver, Marcus received very little playing time and never made it to the professional level. He recorded one touchdown as a receiver during his college career.
On Tuesday, a jury found him guilty of the shooting death of two women that prosecutors argue were murdered because Randle El believed they were involved in informing on him to the police about his drug dealings. He was also found guilty of felony possession of a firearm and operating a vehicle without consent while in possession of a weapon.
Antwaan and his family were present in the courtroom and were described as sharing a moment of grief when the verdict was read, embracing one another and crying as they learned of Marcus’ fate. Following the guilty verdict, he faces sentencing in May.
Prosecutors acknowledged having no murder weapon or DNA evidence tying Marcus to the murders of two women in 2020, but argued that the body of proof built around text messages, surveillance footage, and personal testimonies were beyond doubt.
The defense argued that the burden of proof was not met to find him guilty. Marcus cited his fifth-amendment rights in opting not to testify in his own defense.
As for Antwaan, he was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers back in 2002 and played out his rookie contract with the team, most notably throwing a touchdown pass to fellow wide receiver Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL. After signing with Washington as a free agent, he returned to play in Pittsburgh for one more season in 2010 before retiring.
He expressed some regret in his retirement over his playing career, telling J. Brady McCollough in 2016 that he had been experiencing memory loss, and even difficulty walking down stairs. “I try to chalk it up as I’m busy, I’m doing a lot”, he said, “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”.
He went so far as to say that he would opt to pursue a baseball career if he could do it all over again because of the ailments he has experienced since his retirement. And these comments came seven years ago; one can only hope that his issues have not grown worse.
This is just the latest reminder that the life of the professional athlete isn’t always so glamorous. Earlier this month, it was reported that the death of former Steelers wide receiver Charles Johnson at the age of 50 was ruled a suicide.
Ultimately, however, this is a story about how two young women lost their lives in a violent way, regardless of who was responsible and who that person might have been related to. I don’t know their stories individually, but the one thing we know with absolute certainty is that the families of the victims will never be the same again.