Plagued by physical and memory issues, former Pittsburgh Steeler Antwaan Randle El is speaking out about the toll football has taken on his body, saying that if he could go back in time, he never would have started playing.
"I would play baseball," the 36-year-old, who famously threw a touchdown pass as a wide receiver during Super Bowl XL, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an interview. "Don't get me wrong, I love the game of football. But, right now, I could still be playing baseball." Randle El is having difficulty walking down stairs and remembering things, often having to ask his wife the same question multiple times. "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," he said.
Randle El stopped playing in 2010, and went to Virginia to help start a Christian high school. After two years, the school's football program was cut due to costs, but Randle El said the risks are also increasing. "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. … It just comes down to it's a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week." Taking all of that into consideration, Randle El said he "wouldn't be surprised if football isn't around in 20, 25 years."