The NFL Draft has been considered as one of the most highly anticipated events for college football stars aiming to join the professional arena. Young stars, such as Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, target this time of the year to bag roster spots in the NFL teams. However, reports are now surfacing on the possible long-term consequences of playing professional football.
Antwaan Randle El, one of the most phenomenal NFL stars, reveals his struggles following his career in the field. He was the only player of his post to successfully throw a touchdown pass during the Super Bowl XL. A former superstar for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the wide receiver opted to exit the field in 2011. This concluded an NFL career that lasted for roughly a decade.
Speaking with the Pittsburgh Gazette, Randle El shared that his high life in the football field failed to prepare him for what was to come next. As part of the game, football players are usually hit hard by their opponents. It is widely known that the sport has a violent and aggressive nature, as proven by the sheer number of athletes falling victims to injuries every season. However, the long-term effects of the hits the football stars take have never really been delved into.
In his interview, the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver that even the everyday chores are becoming a challenge to him. Randle El revealed that his wife and children have expressed their fears over his seemingly deteriorating mental and physical state. As one of the most physical players in the NFL, Randle El is heartbroken at how his body and mind are showing signs of decline years before he turns 40.
"I have to come down sideways sometimes, depending on the day," shared the 36-year-old former NFL star, referring to his struggle to climb up and down the stairs. He added, "Going up is easier actually than coming down."
The former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver shared, "I ask my wife things over and over again, and she's like, 'I just told you that.'" He added, "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 further revealed that if he could turn back the hands of time, he would not have stepped into the football field. In fact, the widely celebrated NFL star disclosed that he would have pursued baseball instead. Citing his body and mind's current status, Randle El could not help but feel that perhaps he would be healthier if he chose the MLB over the NFL.
"If I could go back, I wouldn't," the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers star shared, referring to his regret over spending his life playing football. He added, "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 also noted that the current and next generations of football stars appear to be more prone to injuries. He shared that the players these days could end up suffering worse injuries once their bodies give in to the constant battering from the field. While he acknowledges that parents of these young ones provide the proper protective gear, every second spent in the field is a risk to an NFL star's life.
He pointed out, "The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse. 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."
He added, "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."