New York Jets legend Mark Gastineau revealed that he has been diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’sAt one point in time, Mark Gastineau was the talk of New York.
One of the cornerstones of the “New York Sack Exchange,” Gastineau was known for his wild dances on top of his ability to get after the quarterback.
Now, the lifelong Jet is dealing with serious health issues.
The former All-Pro defensive end revealed in an interview with Pete McCarthy of WOR through Seth Waldon of the Daily News that he had been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s nearly a year ago.
Gastineau also stated that the diseases are stemmed from his time playing football. Gastineau played an era where it was not only legal to lead with your helmet but taught.
“I led with my head all the time,” Gastineau said.
This news comes just a week after former running back great Bo Jackson told Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports that he would have never played football if they had as much knowledge about head injuries as we have now.
Although his current health state is connected with his football playing days, he made it clear the techniques that are taught in today’s game through programs such as the Head-Up Football program, for which he is an ambassador, would have prevented his health issues. He believes in the techniques so much that he stated he would let his child play despite his diagnosis.
“I’m not going to say that I’m not going to let my child play when I know there’s techniques out there that if I would have had them … I know that I wouldn’t have the results that I have now,” -Mark Gastineau via WOR
Mark Gastineau also made it clear that he has no regrets about playing football himself.
“I am so happy that I went through the times, the trials and things that I went through in the NFL,’’ Gastineau said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything.’’
Gastineau was preserved into Jets history in 2012, after becoming a member of the Ring of Honor. He registered 22 sacks in 1984 and had 107.5 unofficial sacks is a franchise high (unofficial since sacks were not an official stat until 1982).
NFL Network named him the eighth-best pass-rusher of all-time and even through a grim diagnosis, Gastineau, 60, seemed able to remain positive about his situation.
“I think that the Lord put me on this Earth to show that you can be a great player, have all the sacks in the world…and at the end of your life you get news like this and you can turn it into bad, or you can turn it into good.”