Former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau said Thursday he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia, according to the Bleacher Report.
The 60-year-old told Sports Zone that he believes his playing style contributed to his current health issues.
"When we would hit each other, I mean, you heard pops like a shotgun going off," Gastineau told Sports Zone. "I led with my head."
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson just releases the pass before the hit by Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets, during the first quarter at New York's Shea Stadium, Sept. 13, 1981. (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett)
Gastineau said that he hopes today's youth learn proper tackling techniques to avoid traumatic injuries like those he suffered. He's currently helping USA Football with its "Heads Up Football" program, to ensure the next generation is properly trained.
"I don't want [my diagnosis] to overpower or overshadow the "Heads Up" program, I want it to be a warning to mothers and fathers to be able to put their kids in safe places to be able to carry on a team sport," he told Sports Zone.
Gastineau has a history of drug use but was able to turn his life around. He told Sports Zone his wife JoAnn is to thank for straightening out his life.
Despite the diagnosis, Gastineau said he wouldn't change anything about his time in the NFL.
His diagnosis comes just a week after Bo Jackson told USA Today that he would have never played football if he'd known about the long-term effects the game could have on former players.
You can listen to Gastineau's full interview here.