Former wide receiver Antwaan Randle El raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he admitted in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he's suffered lingering health problems in his post-NFL life and expressed some regrets about his choice to pursue a pro football career.
He has since clarified those words, telling Dan Patrick that the story was overblown and that he's happy and healthy in retirement. While he said that he does experience occasional knee pain when walking down stairs and has bouts with forgetfulness, those issues aren't in any way life-threatening.
"I want people to realize, I'm in no way dying, keeling over, struggling to get around, or anything like that," Randle El said.
He later appeared on ESPN's SportsCenter and reiterated that he doesn't have major memory problems. "I'm intact. I do have my memory. I'm not incapacitated."
However, he does wonder about the cause of the minor memory issues. "Am I busy or does it have to do with some of the hits I've taken playing the game of football?" said the former receiver.
He went on to discuss his experiences playing through injuries and addressed the issue of player welfare when it comes to the potential for a concussion. He noted that he suffered two known concussions in his career, one during college and another in his final NFL season in 2010.
"When you get dinged, so to speak, or you feel like your body is just telling you something's not right, you've got to be able to pull yourself out of the game," Randle El said.
"Having knowledge and understanding now the repercussions of brain injuries and concussions, I would've did it differently when it comes to playing the game of football and understanding, 'I took a hit, I'm not feeling quite right, I need to come out.'"
In his original interview, Randle El questioned the future of football and whether it would still be around in 20 or 30 years. He cleared up those remarks, saying that "you've got so many kids who are stepping out away from the contact sport" but that they just need to be educated about the risks of the game and knowing when to come off the field if they're hurt.
Despite those concerns, he emphasized that he still loves football and doesn't regret playing in the NFL. He acknowledged that the sacrifices he made to play were "worth it," because of the experiences he shared with his teammates, winning the Super Bowl and how he was well-compensated during his career. But he did confirm that if he could do it all over again, he'd choose baseball.
Randle El was a 14th-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1997. He said that he wanted to continue on the path toward becoming a Major League Baseball player, but his parents pushed him to attend college and get an education. He took his talents to Indiana, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback and then taken in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Randle El played nine seasons in the NFL with Washington and the Steelers, winning a ring with Pittsburgh in 2005. The receiver/returner finished his career with more than 9,000 all-purpose yards and 27 total touchdowns.