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Former Steelers WR Antwaan Randle El regrets playing football

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The former Steelers star says if he could do it all over again, he'd play baseball instead.

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As a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Antwaan Randle El played a major role in one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, a gadget play that had him throw a 43-yard touchdown to Hines Ward. Now, a decade later, Randle El has physical and cognitive issues stemming from his football career.

As part of a web feature for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the receiver admits he has some misgivings about pursuing football over a potential career in a different sport.

"If I could go back, I wouldn't (play football)," Randle El 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's concerns extend beyond the length of his playing career. He says he has trouble walking down the stairs and has dealt with bouts of forgetfulness.

"I ask my wife things over and over again, and she's like, 'I just told you that,'" he 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."

The nine-year NFL veteran's anxiety over his mental health and his relationship to his family is a common refrain among retired players. Especially for previous generations, when concussions and other injuries were not taken as seriously as they are today, and that has affected the quality of life for many.

Still, Randle El still says he loves the game that made him famous, even if he questions its future.

"I wouldn't be surprised if football isn't around in 20, 25 years."

Randle El retired in 2010, and now the 36-year-old works at the high school he founded, the Virginia Academy in Ashburn, Va.