New York Jets Announce Wesley Walker and Mark Gastineau to Join Ring of Honor

Rocco ConstantinoContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

Photo courtesy of US Presswire
Photo courtesy of US Presswire

The New York Jets announced that two stars from the 1980s will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of their Monday Night Football matchup against the Houston Texans on October 8.

Defensive end Mark Gastineau and wide receiver Wesley Walker will join 10 other Jets previously inducted since the team founded their Ring of Honor in 2010.  

Walker played with the Jets from 1977-1989 and was one of the great deep threats in the AFC during that time.

Walker made the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1982 and was a favorite target of both Richard Todd and Ken O'Brien.

At the time of his retirement, Walker trailed only Don Maynard on the Jets' all-time receiving list.

Walker had a number of phenomenal games over his career, including the first two games of the 1982 playoffs. In those games against the Bengals and Raiders, Walker combined to catch 15 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.  

He is also known for his role in a wild 51-45 win in overtime against the Dolphins in 1986. In that game, Walker caught six passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner. Walker topped the 100-yard mark 22 times in his career.

The announcement that the Jets were retiring Gastineau's number came somewhat as a surprise.

It wasn't that Gastineau's play on the field didn't merit a number retirement, but his off-field antics as a Jet plagued what was an incredible career.

Gastineau's best season came in 1984, when he recorded an NFL-record 22 sacks, a number that stood on top of the list until broken by Michael Strahan in 2001.  

Gastineau finished his career with 107.5 career sacks.

A member of the famed New York Sack Exchange with Marty Lyons, Abdul Salaam and fellow Ring of Honor member Joe Klecko, Gastineau brought attention to the defensive end position through his exorbitant "sack dance," which was also one of the reasons the NFL started fining players for excessive taunting during celebrations.

Gastineau was named an All-Pro for five straight seasons from 1981-1985 and was named the NEA's NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1984.

The fact that the Jets are bestowing Gastineau with such an honor means that the two sides have come a long way since an ugly period of time in which the Jets wouldn't associate themselves with Gastineau.

Gastineau had his share of troubles off the field during his tenure as a Jet and even spent 11 months jailed at Riker's Island for violating probation by assaulting his then-girlfriend.

The rift between Gastineau and the Jets reached its peak when he walked away from the team in the middle of an outstanding 1988 season. After Week 7, Gastineau announced that his then-girlfriend Brigitte Nielsen was battling a serious health problem.

Many didn't trust the reasons Gastineau gave for his retirement, resulting in an ugly finger-pointing battle between Gastineau and the media.

However, Gastineau became a changed man after his release from prison and has mended fences with the organization since.  

He has appeared at numerous events with the franchise in recent years and is sure to receive a rousing ovation from the fans at halftime on October 8.


Jets Ring of Honor

Joe Namath

Don Maynard

Joe Klecko

Curtis Martin

Winston Hill

Larry Grantham

Freeman McNeil

Weeb Ewbank

Al Toon

Gerry Philbin