New York Jets: Former great Mark Gastineau in poor health, begs NFL to do right

AUGUST 27: Defensive end Mark Gastineau (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
AUGUST 27: Defensive end Mark Gastineau (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Former New York Jets great Mark Gastineau in poor health, begs the NFL to get it right.

Some New York Jets fans will remember the “Sack Exchange” and some have learned about them through their parents, video, …etc. All of us know the importance of this group in the history of the franchise. Well thanks to the repetitive hits from this great game, the Sack Exchange is losing some points in the metaphorical stock market. Or maybe it’s the sack market. All kidding aside this is a very sad story.

Per Rich Cimini of ESPN, Jets legend Mark Gastineau did an interview with WOR radio recently and talked about his health. It’s not going well. A year ago he was diagnosed with serious brain problems. Specifically he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease as well as Parkinson’s Disease. Having one is bad, having both is that much worse.

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During the WOR interview he talked about how the illness has impacted his home life. It was very tough for him to talk about and for those of us who remember his time on the field, this is tough to read:

"“My wife, she and I used to go around and do yard work,” Gastineau said. “But you know what? She does everything now for me. “It’s not good, it’s not good,” he continued, crying. “When I’m laying in bed until three, four, or five [in the afternoon], it’s not good. There will be days I get up and I’m good. … My wife will tell you, she helps me get out of bed … and she’ll help me remember names.”"

For our younger readers, this man was a crazy animal on the football field. He was an edge pass rusher like the team hasn’t seen before or since. Gastineau is the franchise leader in sacks (74) and was the NFL record holder until Brett Favre gave the record to Michael Strahan by lying down for him. Did I say that? Watch the tape and tell me I’m wrong.

He also made his fair share of enemies in the league as he was the first to popularize the “Sack Dance”. Players would come at him and fight with him because they felt he was showing their team up. Jets fans loved it, opponents hated it.

Gastineau, according to Cimini, is involved in the retired players’ case against the NFL but hasn’t received any money to this point. He brought his medical case to the league and believe it or not, they turned him down. Isn’t that horrible? Who are they to put these men in harm’s way and not help them out when they ask for it? It is just not reasonable.

However, do you know what Gastineau wants? An apology? Nope. A whole bunch of money in punitive damages? Gastineau isn’t interested in that. What does he want? He wants respect and he wants the NFL to treat their players with respect.

"“I want the NFL to treat people right,” Gastineau told host Pete McCarthy during an interview on WOR radio. “I want to hold you to your promise, Roger Goodell. You said, ‘Anything I need!’ … I want the players to be treated right.” “The NFL is wrong. The NFL is wrong. They’re wrong. I’m not telling them to give me zillions of dollars. I don’t want zillions of dollars. I want to be treated with respect.”"

Commissioner Goodell and Gastineau became friends during Roger’s time with the Jets after Gastineau was drafted. Recently Goodell told him to come to him for anything he needed. This is what Gastineau needs.

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I’m proud of Gastineau for his attitude here. One can only imagine how tough this must be for him. The way his life has changed, if anyone deserves punitive damages it would be him. Instead all he wants is for players to be treated correctly.

You know what? Mark is absolutely right. These retired players made the league what it is today. Without them we wouldn’t have a league to enjoy every year. The league needs to get this done the right way and kudos to Gastineau for speaking up.