NEW YORK: Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Antwaan Randle El has spoken out about the health challenges he faces in retirement and wishes he had never pursued a career in the NFL.
The 36-year-old former receiver — who played in Pittsburgh’s 2006 Super Bowl win — says he struggles with bouts of severe memory loss and is unable to walk down a flight of stairs normally without experiencing severe pain.
Randle El made his comments in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adding that he believes America’s most popular sport faces a bleak future.
“Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if football isn’t around in 20, 25 years,” said Randle El, admitting he regrets not opting to seek a career in baseball.
“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 famously threw the winning pass to Hines Ward in the 2006 Super Bowl — the first time a receiver has tossed a touchdown pass in the NFL championship game — said he often suffers memory loss.
“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.”
Randle El now works as the athletic director at a high school in Virginia where he recently shut down the establishment’s grid-iron program.
“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.”