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Fluke injury led Gastineau to Jets Ring of Honor

An injury at the Senior Bowl in 1979 and the NFL’s first female scout combined to bring a little-known player by the name of Mark Gastineau to the Jets.

On Monday night the Jets inducted Gastineau into their “Ring of Honor,” a tribute to a 10-year career where he registered 107.5 sacks. But Gastineau was almost never a Jet. It took a stroke of luck to start Gastineau down the road from East Central University in Ada, Okla. to New York City.

The Jets were one of the two NFL teams coaching the Senior Bowl in 1979 and there was an injury to one of the defensive linemen in the game. Connie Carberg was a scouting assistant for the Jets, the first-ever woman in the NFL to hold such a position when she received a call from then Director of Player Personnel Mike Hickey. With the North team needing a defensive lineman, Hickey asked Carberg to go through the files on senior defensive lineman, watch film available on the players, come up with six candidates and start making phone calls to gauge interest.

Carberg’s call to Gastineau sealed the deal.

“I looked at the reports and made phone calls. We didn’t have a whole lot of film on Mark and he was projected around a seventh-round pick. There were more rounds in the draft back then,” Carberg told Metro. “I liked what I saw and I called him and he said, ‘I’m ready to play, I will be there. Tell me where.’ It was after that call that I called [Hickey] and told him we found our player.”

Gastineau reported to the Senior Bowl and became the Defensive MVP of the game. The Jets spent the few days before the game watching him up close and saw the type of player he could become.

Carberg currently lives in Florida and has started her own website that analyzes the NFL and the Jets.  The name Gastineau is still revered around the Meadowlands and hundreds of his jerseys walked around outside MetLife Stadium on Monday night before the Jets game against the Texans.

It all started with Carberg’s vision and Gastineau answering the call. She joined Gastineau and his wife as special guests for Monday night’s Ring of Honor celebration.

“By his height and weight alone — his numbers you’d say ‘Wow, you have to look at him.’ Remember, this was before the internet and computers and before the NFL combine. We didn’t know a lot about him coming from a smaller school,” Carberg said.

“You could see the speed, just all-out effort every play. We didn’t have a tremendous amount of film on him but all the reports on him, the [different] reports that were shared by teams then, there was no question about how special he could become.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.

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