Mark Gastineau, a retired defensive end with the New York Jets, revealed that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson Syndrome and Dementia. Gastineau played 1o years with the New York Jets. He referred to his football strategies as the “physical. smashmouth style of play he was taught”. He further described his style of play: “When we would hit each other, I mean, you heard pops like a shotgun going off. I led with my head”. Gastineau hopes that younger players are taught “safer techniques” and would allow his children to play football if they were coached using the “Heads Up” program through USA Football.
Mark Gastineau’s public sharing of his diagnosis comes hot on the heels of Bo Jackson’s statements about the risks of football.
Will we see more retired players like Mark Gastineau come forward with neurological problems, including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, which stem from their careers in football? We have written many blogs in NeuroNotes about former football greats who have paid a high price for their careers: Mike Webster, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson to name a few who have died and former players like George Visger who lives with the consequences of his many concussions and brain surgeries and now advocates for athletes. We also have written about hockey, boxing, soccer and other sports which have caused lifetime consequences for some. It’s time to pay attention to safety in sports through the early recognition of concussion and through aggressive prevention,treatment and rehabilitation for injured athletes.
Key Words: Mark Gastineau, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Mike Webster, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, Bo Jackson, CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, George Visger, concussions from football, multiple concussions, neurological problems from football