I received more questions for Antwaan Randle El than I have for any previous individual, and I was only able to get to a portion of them. But he was candid and straightforward in his responses, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll try to get in some of the questions I missed.
Much is made amongst a team’s fanbase of the hatred of Dallas. As a professional athlete in an era of free agency does this rivalry exist in the same way for you and other players as it does for the fans?
You can feel it just being on the team, being in the division. They’re Dallas, you know? We played Dallas a couple of times when I was in Pittsburgh, and they would seem kinda arrogant and cocky, which is where I think a lot of it comes from. Now, the rivalry, playing them all the time, it’s even more.
Do you still have any desire to play QB in the NFL?
Yes. Not as strong as it used to be, but it’s still there sometimes.
But you didn’t put up a struggle against the switch from QB to WR the way some other guys have, right?
Right. Because this is my second opportunity to play professional ball – I was drafted to play professional baseball, and my mom and dad made me go to school. So this is my second chance to play professional ball, and I wanted to make sure I got in.
Which Redskin has the weirdest routine on game day?
London Fletcher. He throws up before every game. Before every game, he vomits. Comes out with his headphones, gets worked up, gets going, and then come out with the team and everything. And we come out again for kickoff, and before kickoff …. Bleeeeeeeearrggh.
What WR in the league is the most similar to you?
Wes Welker. I like the way he plays. Not just that he’s quick and fast, but he works hard. Works to get open, works to make his blocks, works in the return game. He’s a hard working guy.
Who’s the best player you’ve ever been on a field with that didn’t make it to the pros?
Levron Williams. He was my starting tailback in Indiana. He was 6’3″, an Eddie George type. He wasn’t as aggressive, could be seen as a little timid in a lot of ways, and I think that worked against him.
Playing for a team like the Steelers with the fans that they have, what was it like when you first got traded to the Skins. Is the changeover a player makes from team to team a tough one?
It was exciting to see that the fans are similar. I didn’t realize that the fanbase was as big for the Redskins as it is for the Steelers. Steeler Nation is huge, but this Redskins Nation is just as impressive.
You sense the difference right away, not only at the games, but at the mall, and at the events… you sense it.
As a small receiver in the NFL what goes through your mind when crossing the middle for a pass? Do you feel panic or fear or anything?
Nothing. No panic. The only thing that hurts is when you don’t see it coming. Those are the hits that hurt. If you see it coming you can get your body ready for it, but when you don’t … those hurt.
With this offense,and your current weapons can we expect at some point this year that we can consistently score 30 points a game?
Yes. We sure can. We’ve just gotta keep going and keep working at it, but be looking for it.
Why have you had so much less success at returning punts on the Skins than you had on the Steelers?
I think I had less success one year: last year. I didn’t do it well because I was nicked up. I had a hamstring, I had a knee that was bothering, which I got fixed in the offseason. The first year I was here I averaged pretty good yardage and got the touchdown against Indy. So I produced my first year, but haven’t produced nearly like I did in Pittsburgh since then, mainly because I was all nicked up. I’m not nicked up now. I know the first two games weren’t the best for punt returns, but it’s going to blow up as we go along.
What do you think of Coach Zorn so far? How does he compare to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher?
Coach Zorn is one of those fiery coaches who is going to do all he can to make sure his players are taken care of when it comes to the field. He’s played the game, so he knows that part, and he’s an offensive minded guy, so he knows how to keep that ball moving up the field.
Both he and Cowher had played the game, so they have an understanding that sometimes you have to take the pads off and back down on what you’re doing so you can be fresh in the game on Sunday. From what I’ve seen of Jim, that’s the road he’s heading down, and Bill certainly did that all the time.
I would like to know what his celebration is when it appears that he “parts the clouds” after a catch or big play. I know he is fairly religious, so does it have some to do with his faith?
Yes — I’m opening up the windows of heaven and letting God pour out his blessings. That’s what it is.
As a converted QB are there teams in the league you see and think you’d be better than their starting QB? You don’t have to give names if you’d rather not….
Oh yeah. No question. They’d be throwing the ball, and … no question.
What’s one thing that most fans think ‘I could do that’ but have no idea how hard it actually is?
The whole thing with NFL football, the “Oh, you just go to practice,” or “you just go to meetings,” and they say, “Oh, for the amount of money you’re getting paid, I could do all of that.”
You really think that? Really? And they wouldn’t have a chance. They wouldn’t last a week, probably not a couple of days. They just wouldn’t.