But the Mark Gastineau of today is far more humble than he was during his glory days of the 1980s, admitting he was a "prideful, arrogant person" when he played in the NFL.
The 6'5½"/197cm Gastineau, who turned pro in 1979, was among the most talented and honored defensive linemen of his era and made the Pro Bowl 5 straight seasons (1981–85) and finished his ten year career with 107½ sacks, the Jets all-time record.
A first-team All-Pro from 1981-85 and consensus All-AFC in each of those years, Gastineau was undoubtedly one of the quickest and most feared pass rushers of his generation.
But in 1988, Gastineau abruptly retired. At the time, he was the NFL's all-time leader in sacks. And according to SI.com, he left football for fear he'd fail the NFL's new and improved steroids testing policy.
Three years later, the 34 year old Gastineau, still a physical specimen and popular with the masses, became a professional boxer. Big, strong, muscular and athletic, Gastineau learned very quickly it took far more than that to be an accomplished heavyweight.
He won his first fight against Derrick Dukes, a pro (WWE syle) wrestler via a first-round knockout but Dukes later admitted he took a dive... As if it wasn't too obvious from the video.
Gastineau's first loss came via a lopsided 5 round unanimous decision to journeyman Tim Anderson (then 25-15-1). The smaller Anderson used his superior skills to batter the herculean Gastineau from pillar to post.
But Gastineau would win 6 more bouts against questional opposition, including a 6th Round knockout of Anderson, who insisted he was poisoned, in their rematch.
His final bout was in 1996 against another former NFL star, Alonzo Highsmith (then 15-0-1), a Heisman Trophy winner and pro football running back.
Highsmith, unlike Gastineau's other opponents, actually had "some" skill. The fight was a mismatch with Highsmith, 27 lbs lighter than his foe, stopping a sloppy, amateurish-looking Gastineau in two rounds.
Mark Gastineau finished his boxing career 15-2-1, 15 KOs.
To novice observers of boxing and non-fans, Mark Gastineau seemed to be a perfect fit for boxing due to his size, strength and athleticism. After all, Gastineau was nearly 6'6" and weighed around 260 lbs. Evander Holyfield, the heavyweight champion at the time, weighed only around 208 lbs.
But Gastineau, a literal terror on the football field, was little more than a bumbling brute in the ring, to no surprise of boxing experts.
Mark Gastineau Facts
- Played 10 years as a defensive end for the NFL's New York Jets and was a member of the fabled "New York Sack Exchange".
- Was a top spokesperson for Holiday Spa (Now Bailey's), a popular health club, appearing on many TV commercials.
- Gastineau met actress Brigitte Nielsen in 1988 and they soon became a highly-publicized couple.
- Spent time in prison, as he has had several run-ins with the law.
- His ex-wife Lisa Gastineau and their daughter Brittny Gastineau were the stars of the E! reality television show, The Gastineau Girls. Gastineau has a son with actress Brigitte Nielsen, Killian Marcus (born on December 15, 1989 in Scottsdale, Arizona).
- Gastineau has said he has become a changed person and hopes to have put his turbulent past behind him. In 2001, soon after his release from prison in 2001, he claimed to have a religious conversion to faith in Jesus Christ and has appeared on Christian programs such as The 700 Club
Facts source: Wikipedia