If he had to do it all over again, Antwaan Randle El would have played baseball instead.
The former Redskins and Steelers wide receiver says he regrets playing professional football since at the age 36 and five years removed from his last game, he's been physically debilitated by the game he still loves.
"If I could go back, I wouldn’t,” Randle El 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 called it quits after the 2010 season and now serves as the athletic director of a Virginia Christian school he helped found. But despite being so young, football has left him with memory issues and the inability to go down a flight of stairs without pain. He's worried the game's physical toll will only increase as athletes become bigger, faster, and stronger.
“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.”
Despite the NFL's immense popularity, Randle El believes the league's future is in serious jeopardy.
“Right now,” he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years.”
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