Former Steelers wide receiver and trick play artist Antwaan Randle El is very clear about one thing: if he could replay his life, there’s no way he’d play football. “If I could go back, I wouldn’t,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I would play baseball. I got drafted by the 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.”
Randle El technically retired from football in 2012, but his last season was 2010, his ninth. And like numerous football players before him, Randle El described not just a body messed-up from years of bone-crunching tackles, but also a mind that is beginning to fail him:
“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that,’ ” Randle El said. “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.”
Randle El isn’t an old-timer, nor did he battle in the trenches and butt heads 70 times a game: he’s a young 36-year-old guy who should be looking forward to decades more of sound health. Instead, he struggles to walk down stairs:
“I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day,” Randle El, 36, said. “Going up is easier actually than coming down.”
Randle El’s harrowing story is part of a larger Post-Gazette project that looks at the post-football lives of some of the most famous players in Steeler history. The stories are really interesting, and I highly suggest you check it out.
Photo via Getty