Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El has a Super Bowl ring to his name and an impressive nine-season career behind him, but the 36-year-old says he now wishes he’d never played in the NFL.
“If I could go back, I wouldn’t [play football],” he said in an eye-opening interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the sport that made him famous. “I would play baseball. I got drafted by the [Chicago] 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 lo
Numerous serious injuries have left the 5-foot-10-inch star player from Indiana University with severe memory loss and physical limitations that force him to go up and down the stairs in his house sideways.
“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that,'” he revealed. “I’ll ask her three times the night before and get up in the morning and forget.
“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,” added the father of four.
Randle El retired from the NFL in 2012 after spending much of his career with the Steelers, including making history as the only wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass in the 2006 Super Bowl during their victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Following his retirement, Randle El started a Christian high school in Virginia. When funding issues at the school forced them to cancel football, many parents complained but the Super Bowl champ was somewhat relieved.
“The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries are only going to get worse,” he told the Post-Gazette. “It’s a tough pill to swallow because
“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.”
The disturbing issue of concussions was highlighted in Will Smith‘s film “Concussion,” which tells the real-life story of Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of the link between brain injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and professional football players, and the NFL’s denial of the connection.
On Dec. 30, just days after the movie was released, New York Jets offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson wrote a first-person essay for Sports Illustrated saying he felt betrayed by the NFL since watching the film.
“Since seeing ‘Concussion,’ I can’t avoid wondering if I am in danger of experiencing some degree of brain injury when I am done playing,” the lineman wrote. “I fear the unavoidable truth is that playing football has placed me in harm’s way, and I am not yet sure of the full extent of what it might cost me.”
In November, pathological tests proved that New York Giants great Frank Gifford — who died earlier in 2015 at age 84 — had suffered from the progressive degenerative brain disease CTE.
The Gifford family, including Frank’s wife, “Today” show host Kathie Lee Gifford, had donated his brain to science and disclosed his condition “to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s,” they said in a statement.