Baseball Wiser Play than Football, According to Former Receiver

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In the 2014 MLB Draft the San Diego Padres drafted Johnny Manziel despite the fact the now troubled Browns Quarterback and former Heisman Trophy Winner hadn’t played at all in college. Would he have been safer and made a smarter life decision if he had gone for baseball? If you ask former Steelers WR Antwaan Randle El he might say decidedly yes.

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In an article for the Pittsburgh Gazette and later reiterating in an interview with Dan Patrick, the former college QB turned receiver who was also drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round before deciding to play football at college in Indiana. He states, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t [play football], 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.”

He talks about his now daily pain of climbing stairs and the memory loss he sees himself developing after years getting hit on the gridiron and not knowing all of the future injury risks of playing through concussions.

He issues a warning that “If you’re playing this game of football you have to know what you’re getting yourself into.”

While of course there is risk in playing baseball – ask Brandon McCarthy who got a partial skull fracture a couple of years ago – certainly the NFL has come under intense scrutiny in the past few years for the dangers as well as allegations that are covering up those dangers too. The recent Will Smith Concussion movie as well as the death of former Chargers star Junior Seau illuminated these truths and brought more truth to the light.

Without the advantage of steroids, baseball is a game that is getting younger, but because baseball does not involve heavy hitting for three years each Sunday it does allow players with skills and brains to stick around longer. Players like Ichiro Suzuki and Bartolo Colon, though no longer what they used to be by any means – can still stick around and bring a guile to their clubs that youth cannot replace.

The Padres might take a chance this season on Tim Lincecum, whose unorthodox wind-up made him baseballs best pitcher for several years before age caught up to him quickly and has given him several sub-par seasons removed from his prime. Now however, he appears ready to contribute again and the Padres could use a bullpen arm.

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While many players have to choose between football and baseball, at this time the NFL is the meal ticket to a bigger payday faster. If Johnny Manziel had chosen baseball – let’s ignore the fact he likely could not have handled minor league life off the field since he can’t handle NFL life at all – after his huge signing bonus he would have been getting paid peanuts compared to his opportunity in the NFL. However he appears hellbent on not receiving another NFL contract after one off-the-field snafu after another.

For Randle El made a lot of the money in the NFL, money that is not guaranteed by any means in baseball, especially for a 12th round pick. Baseball can still do things to make it safer as truly any fan injury or player injury that could be prevented should be – an angle proponents of the universal DH point out after some prominent NL pitchers have hurt themselves hitting in the past few seasons. Injuries need to be addressed in the NFL – but perhaps this will help pull some of the stronger athletes towards MLB in the future.

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