On Wednesday the Detroit Lions announced that they have hired former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El as the team’s new wide receivers coach. Notably, it appears that another former Steelers receiver, Hines Ward, was also being considered for the job.
Randle El signs on with the Lions after spending the last two years working as an offensive assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of many former Steelers on Bruce Arians’ coaching staff.
Randle El is a Former Second-Round Draft Pick of the Steelers
Antwaan Randle El, 41, originally came into the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the Steelers (No. 62 overall) in the 2002 NFL draft.
He played the first four seasons of his career (2002-05) in Pittsburgh before signing with Washington as a free agent, only to return to the Steelers in 2010 for one final NFL season.
In nine years with Pittsburgh and Washington, he appeared in 143 career games (71 starts) and contributed 370 receptions for 4,467 yards and 15 touchdowns along with 438 rushing yards, 323 passing yards and six passing touchdowns. Randel El also served as a kickoff and punt returner for both teams, amassing a total of 4,316 yards and six touchdowns. The Steelers frequently developed plays designed to take advantage of his varied skill set, including end-arounds, reverse runs and reverse passes.
He’s best remembered for (Fake-39 Toss X-Reverse Pass) the 43-yard touchdown pass he threw to Hines Ward in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XL, the last points scored in Pittsburgh’s 21-10 win.
Earlier this month he earned another Super Bowl ring when the Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.
Randle El Was a Quarterback at the University of Indiana
Antwaan Randle El was a dual rushing and passing threat as a quarterback in college at the University of Indiana (where he also returned kicks and occasionally handled punts) but made the switch to wide receiver upon entering the NFL. At times, he also played on Indiana’s basketball and baseball teams.
Randle El was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1998 and was All-Big Ten in 1999, 2000 and 2001. He was also named Big Ten Most Valuable Player in 2001 and was a first-team All-American in 2001, a year in which he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
Before joining Tampa Bay’s coaching staff in 2019 he worked as athletic director at Virginia Academy, a K-12 private school in Virginia. He also operates a charity organization, the EL Foundation, which provides grants that support underprivileged children.
In a 2016 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Randle El said if he could go back and do it over again he would play baseball instead of football, in part because of the toll football took on his body.
“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,” he said, “But right now, I could still be playing baseball.”
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