The Jets moved from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Bud Carson in 1985, but despite the switch, and breaking his hand that year, Gastineau still finished second in the league with 13.5 sacks, still showing his dominance as a pass rusher in a new position.
Mark had a controversial careeer as well, beginning with the 1987 players strike. He was the first regular Jets player to cross the picket line and play in the replacement games, causing a great deal of tension between him and his teammates. Then came his abrupt retirement in 1987. He had started to date Brigitte Nielsen, the model/actress. Despite their highly public relationship, Gastineau continued to perform well, leading the AFC in sacks 7 weeks into the season. He responded by coming to the locker room, announcing his retirement, and that was the end of his NFL career. He later tried a brief comeback in the CFL, but that lasted only 4 games.
After his sports career was over, he did run into some trouble with the law, including spending 11 months in prison for parole violations, but since then Mark Gastineau has resurrected his life, found religion, and is a notably changed man, whos has gone around speaking about his experience.
For his career, Gastineau made the Pro Bowl five straight years, from 1981-1985. He was also an All-Pro and All-AFC selection in these years. Mark was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1982, and the AFC Player of the year in 1984. He earned Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1984 as well, recording four sacks in the game.
Mark also holds another distinction, which likely will interest younger readers. For all of the celebrations you see these days, from the end zone craziness, to everything else, it didn’t start recently. Mark Gastineau was the first, when he introduced us to his sack dance. Take a look at this clip, where Mark shows us his moves following a sack:
It was banned for a while in the eighties for taunting, but as we all know, they dance and they celebrate now, and Mark Gastineau was the first.
All of that aside, he was a dominant force for the Jets, and another worthy member of the Ring of Honor. DE, Mark Gastineau.