Playing in the NFL for nearly a decade comes with its fair share of repercussions.
After playing nine years in the league from 2002-2010, retired Super Bowl champion Antwaan Randle El wouldn't do it all over again if he had the opportunity.
“If I could go back, I wouldn’t,” the former Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. “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 love the game of football. But right now, I could still be playing baseball.”
Six years after retiring, Randle El experiences memory loss and even has trouble walking down the stairs. He's only 36 years old.
“I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day,” Randle El said. “Going up is easier actually than coming down.”
He added: “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.”
What's worse is Randle El says that no matter what precautions the NFL takes to make its league safer, concussions are going to remain part of the game.
“The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse,” he said. “It’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.”
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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)