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01/20/2017 10:11 am ET

Mark Gastineau Says He Has Dementia, Alzheimer's And Parkinson's

The 60-year-old NFL great insists, "I don't want to give up."
Mark Gastineau, pictured in 1986, says he couldn't believe the diagnosis at first.
Tom Berg via Getty Images
Mark Gastineau, pictured in 1986, says he couldn't believe the diagnosis at first.

NFL legend Mark Gastineau revealed Thursday that he has been diagnosed with multiple neurological diseases. 

Gastineau, 60, told WOR’s Pete McCarthy that he took tests about a year ago for concussions he suffered in his career, including his storied 10-year NFL stint as a defensive end with the New York Jets.

“When my results came back, I had dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” he said.

In another part of the interview, Gastineau admitted, “I don’t want to give up because I got those results.” 

Mark Gastineau, pictured in a 1984 game, says doctors advised him of his serious health issues a year ago.
Focus On Sport via Getty Images
Mark Gastineau, pictured in a 1984 game, says doctors advised him of his serious health issues a year ago.

Gastineau did the interview in part to promote USA Football’s Heads-Up Football program, which proponents say is making the game safer. The program includes teaching a “heads-up” tackling technique, but its results are reportedly subject to debate. “I led with my head all the time,” Gastineau said.

The most flamboyant member of the Jets’ much vaunted “New York Sack Exchange” defensive line of the early ‘80s and the team’s all-time sack leader, Gastineau elaborated on his diagnosis with the New York Daily News

“You know, my first reaction was that I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it,” Gastineau told the outlet. “My second reaction was how can I help other people coming in to the NFL? That’s what it’s all about.”

Mark Gastineau, pictured in his 2012 induction into the Jets' Ring of Honor, told WOR, "I led with my head all the time."
Al Bello via Getty Images
Mark Gastineau, pictured in his 2012 induction into the Jets' Ring of Honor, told WOR, "I led with my head all the time."

A study from April found that more than 40 percent of retired NFL players examined showed indications of brain trauma, which can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. 

Listen below for Gastineau’s full interview with WOR, in which he also discusses religion and whether he thinks children should play the game. More specific comments about his health begin around the 21:00 mark on the left.

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