Former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau said Saturday that he was raped for three years during his childhood.
In an interview with Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post published Saturday, Gastineau said a man who helped run his father's ranch in Arizona raped him repeatedly from the ages of 11 to 14: "I was raped. But I held it in for so long. Maybe cancer has made me confront it."
The 63-year-old Gastineau was recently deemed cancer-free after undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to treat a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis.
Gastineau said he suppressed the memories until he married his wife, Jo Ann, 12 years ago: "I didn't even think about it until I married her and I could trust someone to tell. But I held it in for so long."
He also noted that the death of his mother last year played into his decision to tell his story now: "If my mom were alive, this story would never be out there. I would never, never be telling this story because it would kill her. My dad still has a hard time believing it."
Gastineau added that he will go into more detail in his memoir, which is in the process of being written. Gastineau expressed hope that his story will also cause parents to exercise caution with regard to who they bring around their children.
The five-time Pro Bowler said he does not know where is abuser is currently, and he has no plans to confront him.
Gastineau spent his entire 10-year NFL career with the Jets and registered 74.0 sacks during that time, which still stands as a franchise record.
His 22.0 sacks in 1984 stood as a single-season NFL record for 17 years until New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan finished with 22.5 sacks in 2001.