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Catching Up With Antwaan Randle El

Posted by Gabe Hiatt on March 7, 2014 – 2:18 pm

Antwaan Randle El

The E-L in Antwaan Randle El’s foundation stands for more than his name.

“Everlasting love, baby!” the former Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver explained before appearing on “Redskins Nation” with Larry Michael.

Since retiring from the NFL in 2012, Randle El kept his home in the Commonwealth and showed Loudoun County the love.

In addition to his work with The El Foundation – which works for underserved youth in the greater Washington, D.C. area, Pittsburgh and Chicago – Randle El took a job as athletic director, coach and mentor at Virginia Academy when the private school created a high school curriculum last year.

After he gave Michael his opinions on DeAngelo Hall and Brian Orakpo, Randle El caught up with me about his career after pro football.

Getting into coaching gave the college quarterback a chance to pass on the the lessons he learned pursuing a football career, earning an undergraduate degree from Indiana University and  recently obtaining an MBA from George Washington.

“I know what it takes off the field, and then definitely when it comes to effort and the preparation it takes to be successful on the field,” Randle El said.

“And I know about staying out of trouble, being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there and having some structure. Kids may say they don’t want structure… They want some structure.”

Working with boys’ football, basketball and track along with girls’ volleyball and basketball gives Randle El an opportunity to satisfy his competitive side and learn the administrative aspects of the job. The students hold him accountable to come through on his promises to them, and in turn, he holds his athletes accountable for their schoolwork.

You don’t play if you miss assignments at Virginia Academy. Randle El said about 10 high schoolers have dropped out of his program, but that’s a sign of progress.

“We’re on the right track because who we’ve lost and who we’ve gained,” Randle El said. “Those who stayed will be the champions, no question.”

Although he admits he still gets the “itch” to play football, Randle El is enjoying his role as the offensive coordinator of the Patriots’ inaugural freshmen football team.

“I call the plays,” he said.  “That’s what I wanted to do.”

“(I like) being able to guess if the play is going to work, and I know if you run it this way, it’s going to work. So it’s good. And having the say-so of who’s in the game, when they’re in the game, in this package or that package. I feel like this player is better in this package, so put him in.”

He didn’t like being subbed out of certain packages as a player, but he now he has a greater understanding of why he needed to trust his coaches.

Off the football field, Randle El is working on expanding the athletic program. He expects the school to field a baseball program in the near future.

The El Foundation is still a priority, too. Randle El will host a golf tournament benefiting the foundation on Tuesday, May 13.

“It’s a big ball of wax,” he said. “But at the same time it’s so rewarding.”

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