LANSDOWNE, Va. (WUSA 9) -- After dedicating more than 20 years of his life to football, Antwaan Randle El has a new passion in life. The former Redskins wide receiver currently runs his own charity organization, the EL Foundation. Its mission is to provide life-changing opportunities for underserved children and their families across the country.
"This will be the ninth year we have been doing the El Foundation and it has been really successful. We have been able to reach out to underprivileged children and provide them with life changing opportunities," said Randle El.
More specifically, the foundation looks to provide and implement recreational programs and provide structure to young men and women. For Randle El says that for him, it comes down to acting with compassion.
"Sometimes that opportunity is simply showing love, whether that is taking a kid to lunch, taking them to breakfast, doing a coat drive and making sure that kids are warm for the winter. Things like that let a kid know that someone cares about them," said Randle El.
Tuesday, Randle El hosted the second annual Antwaan Randle El Charity Golf Classic at the Lansdowne Resort to raise money for the EL Foundation. Former Redskins and teammates of Randle El came out to golf in support of his foundation. Former Redskins safety Reed Doughty, who attended the event, thinks highly of Randle El.
"[He] was always somebody I looked up to when I was playing with him, he's a real leader in the community. He's done great things when he was in Pittsburgh and also in Washington," said Doughty. He added that Randle El understands the challenges underprivileged youth face today.
"Guys like [Randle] El understand how hard it is this day and age growing up, and to try and give kids the best opportunity to succeed. [Randle] El is doing that, and that is what his foundation is all about," said Doughty. Randle El knows he can use his achievements on the field and in his foundation to motivate kids to be successful.
"Kids in high school and middle school deal with all the issues under the sun, and they don't know how to deal with them. Being able to talk to them and reach out to them about their issues, with my foundation, I know what I am going to say to them is going to make a difference."
Since retiring from the NFL in 2012, Randle El has been able to devote more time and energy to his foundation.
"[I am] more hands on, and there is more reaching out. We have gone international recently. We have brought a Nigerian kid over and provided him with private school education and allowed him to play sports," said Randle El.
When comparing catching footballs to putting together a charity event Randle El believes the success of both comes down to teamwork.
"You need partners and help in order to do both things. You have offensive lineman blocking, you have a quarterback dropping back looking for you, and after you catch the ball it is up to you. It is the same with a foundation, although I have the platform I need others to help run it. I have great partners in Keller Williams and The Yahner Group that help put this event together, so those guys are like my offensive line and quarterback that help me run this part of my organization."
Despite having not played for the Redskins in six years, Randle El resides in the area and keeps a close eye on the team. Randle El says he is fond of new head coach Jay Gruden.
"It is always a good step to bring in a guy who knows football. Right off the bat you know [Jay] Gruden knows football. He is comes from a good football family," said Randle El, who added that he believes Gruden will re-energize the team after a dismal season.
"You need somebody that is going to be motivating. You hear players saying they like him so that is a good start. Now it is up to the players buying in to his offense and what he demands as a head coach."
Randle El says the addition of DeSean Jackson brings a new dynamic to the Redskins' offense and that the team is ready to compete now. "He's a guy that can blow the top off the defense. You have to cover deep now. [Redskins] have all the pieces they need. If they have some guys step up in certain spots they will do well."
From playing for the Redskins and nine seasons in the NFL to running a charity, Randle El said he has always had his faith to guide him. He believes his Christian background provides the backbone and vision for his foundation.
"I know without God I wouldn't be here," said Randle El. "I know that I am a sinner and I know Jesus will be there to forgive me, and that he loves me, and because of that I want everybody to know that."