Antwaan Randle El was an NFL receiver and sometimes punt returner for nine seasons. During that time, he was an All-Pro, made millions of dollars, scored 27 touchdowns, went to two Super Bowls, won one, and was the only wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass in the history of the Super Bowl. (According to RealClearSports, Randle El—a former college quarterback—had a career NFL passer rating of 157.8 on 27 attempts, the highest-ever rating for a player with at least 20 completions.
Now, via an the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here are his current thoughts on his playing days:
“If I could go back, I wouldn’t,” he said. “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, who retired in 2010 and is now 36 years old, has trouble walking down stairs and experiences memory lapses, the Post-Gazette reported. “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.” He says he tries to chalk it up to being busy but is clearly concerned it is concussion related. The stairs thing is less easy to ascribe to something other than being related to the hits he took on the football field. “I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day,” he said. “Going up is easier actually than coming down.”
As the Washington Post noted, Randle El filed a concussion lawsuit against the NFL and was ultimately one of more than 5,000 players to receive a $900 million settlement from the league. He told the Post-Gazette’s that he tells parents the game’s violence is so innate that the risks of concussions and severe spinal injury are actually getting worse, not better.
“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,” he said.
“Right now,” he added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years.”