OT - NY Jets Legend Mark Gastineau suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's

Submitted by boliver46 on January 20th, 2017 at 11:16 AM

Not much more to say here, other than sadness for a player I grew up idolizing.

CTE cannot be diagnosed until death, but with this list of problems - I can't imagine CTE not being present.

Techniques being what they were during his time in the NFL, and the lack of awareness of the consequences - led to this sad state of affairs:

"I know that there’s techniques out there that if I would have had ‘em, if I would have had the techniques out there that I’m teaching now to these kids, I know I would not be probably...I know I wouldn’t have the results that I have now,” he said. “I led with my head all the time,” Gastineau added.


I don't have much more to say - other than I have 3 boys: aged 11->18 months.  And even as a former College FB player - I am not sure whether I want them to follow in my footsteps.




uncle leo

January 20th, 2017 at 11:25 AM ^

It's not worth it anymore. Until the sport is radically altered, this stuff will not go away. Unless your kids are going to be punters or kickers I wouldn't.

But it's not my place to tell ya lol, no kids here!


January 20th, 2017 at 12:55 PM ^

I played, absolutely love football and would discourage my hypothetical children from playing at the least if not outright saying no.

I went to my friend's kid's game and it was a bunch of 9 year olds jacking each other up and getting talked to about being more physical. It made me cringe and feel awful on the inside.

At the very least we need flag-only for younger kids. I would be fine with no hitting until high school even if that negatively impacted the quality of college football (which I don't entirely buy).


January 20th, 2017 at 2:37 PM ^

Flag football is fantastic for younger kids, teaches them skills and how to deal with space without introducing the hitting that in my opinion can be taught later and by better coaches than dads volunteering their time after school.  I coach my sons team and I love it, it keeps him active and thinking in a team sport context and I don't have to worry about my team getting run over by the kids who are a year older, but in the same age division.

I am going to let my kid make his own decision, but I'd be sad if he chose to not play as I played through high school and thought it did me a lot of good.  


January 20th, 2017 at 2:48 PM ^

Did me a lot of good too so that's my main conflict if/when the hypothetical becomes real for me.

It seems to me that being comfortable with space/angles is the more important piece than learning to tackle in youth football so glad to hear that from someone in that world (and glad to hear you're coaching and enjoying!).


January 20th, 2017 at 11:51 AM ^

this can happen in nearly any sport. if your daughters play soccer they are at risk. i played football my entire chidhood and never had an issue. i got a concussion playing basketball and had to sit out my senior year of football in high school. i still don't remember about 5 hours of the day it happened. 


January 20th, 2017 at 12:22 PM ^

Are people not aware that itss not just boy's/men's football, boxing and ice hockey that have significant concussion risk? If not, people -- particularly if you are a parent -- need to get educated.

Soccer is not nearly as dangerous as football, but girls' soccer definitely has a concussion "issue" (even more so than boys, though the reason for that is not clear) -- leagues are making changes because of it.




January 20th, 2017 at 1:29 PM ^

It's not even my main one for kids, as the science on it is so uncertain (e.g., what exactly causes it; how to do you tell - besides an autopsy - who has it). Multiple concussions are bad, on average, in their own right.

As shown by those stories I just posted and from my own personal experience talking with teachers, kids can miss significant amounts of school due to the fact they can't literally think hard enough for school, due to concussions. They get head aches and tired, and since they can't keep up, they miss class. This can go on for months.


January 20th, 2017 at 1:54 PM ^

Unfortunately, this is likely not the case. There has not been as much studies done on soccer (or other sports) as there have been for football, but CTE does appear, and likely at a high rate. See links below:


Link: Cortical thinning in former professional soccer players (Springer) Full article

Link: (CTE) in Contact Sports: A Systemic Review of All Reported Pathological Cases (NIH)

Link: Late-stage CTE pathology in a retired soccer player with dementia (NIH)

Link: Women get Sports Concussions at a Higher Rate than Men (538)

Link: Brain Trauma Extend to the Soccer Field (NYT)


Ali G Bomaye

January 20th, 2017 at 1:13 PM ^

Sure, and you can trip walking down the street and fall and get a concussion, but that doesn't mean that all risks are equal. As a sport where you're literally supposed to run into other people, football has an extremely high risk of concussion compared to most others. Plus, depending on what position you play, there are also lots of sub-concussive impacts that also contribute to CTE.


January 20th, 2017 at 11:37 AM ^

I know a kid who played football and basketball in high school and sustained two concussions as a sophomore while playing basketball. He had to stop playing at that point. In college now, he still has headaches, perhaps for the rest of his life. I consider myself fortunate that my son took himself out of both hockey and football once checking and tackling were part of the game. 

Winthorpe. Louis III

January 20th, 2017 at 11:55 AM ^

as someone who has lost a parent to Alzheimer's, I really fear for future sufferers who have neither the financial means nor family support systems to manage the devestating realities of long-term care.  It's a monetary and emotional nightmare. I suspect CTE and its attendant diseases will afflict a great many former players who reside on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.  As a result, lives of both the sick and healthy will be adversely affected (not that it's a picnic for affluent families). CTE is the ugly byproduct of a sport we love and I think we all bear some responsibility for its victims. As I mentioned in the thread about shoulder tackling earlier this week, I wouldn't mind seeing a version of the sport in which there are no pads or helmets.  A radical change from what we now enjoy as American Football for sure (and likely not a particularly popular one), but perhaps it offers a way to avoid to a serious football-related health care crisis in the future.


January 20th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

Hockey and soccer quickly come to mind.

My sons played hockey and the contacts are every bit as violent as football.  And the heading of the soccer ball is not to be ignored, especially at the younger levels.  I am sure there are other sports as well but the concern is not limited to football is my point.


January 20th, 2017 at 12:08 PM ^

Heading has been banned at young ages as of last yr.

As to OP, even being in the opposite conference he was a favorite for sure with great flair. It's amazing to me how some guys in these eras walk away with what seem little damage and are broadcasting or doing other public appearances 30 yrs later and others have such devastating impact.


January 20th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

There are risks associated with almost every

conceivable human activity. It is important that CTE is discussed and that people are informed, but it is also important to place this within a greater context.

I never played football even though I had a chance to. I wish every day that I had.

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January 20th, 2017 at 12:48 PM ^

He is 60 years old now.  That's quite young to be suffering from such illnesses.

He was a freaking terror of the NFL for many years. I don't know how many ProBowls he was in during the 1980s. Almost all of them.

108 sacks over 10 year career in NFL

What college did he play at? East Central Oklahoma State, 1978. WTF man. They said he had "no business playing at the NFL level". They were wrong.

Gastineau sacking Jim Plunkett.

Roids were likely an issue for the man.