Mark Gastineau wants his sack record back and he’s finally ready to say so.

The former Jet and Sack Exchange member told ESPN he and his 22 sacks should be recognized as the NFL’s single-season sack leader, not former Giants great Michael Strahan. The Hall of Famer earned the record of 22.5 in 2001 when he sacked Brett Favre, whom many feel took a dive on the play.

“It’s my record, and I want it to be known that it’s my record,” Gastineau, who earned his mark in 1984, told ESPN. “I’m not going to say, ‘I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.’ It’s my record.”

Gastineau, 63, had previously been quiet about his feelings toward the record — even showing up and congratulating Strahan on the field in 2001. But he finally wanted to “clear things up” after having it “on my head all the time.”

“It’s a good record and it took me a long time to get that,” Gastineau said. “It took a lot of work, a lot of work to get that record. So many years I worked my butt off to get it, and I finally got it, and it shouldn’t have been cheapened like it was. It’s like a tarnished record.”

Jets
Michael Strahan and Mark GastineauPaul J. Bereswill, AP

Gastineau, who had a recent battle with colon cancer, said he was also inspired to try to reclaim his record after hearing an interview with disgraced former Reds great Pete Rose — who is again petitioning MLB for reinstatement after the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Gastineau would not own the record by himself. The Vikings’ Jared Allen (2011) and Justin Houston with the Chiefs (2014) both had 22 sacks in a season.

Gastineau’s frustrations, which he said do not extend to Strahan personally, stem from him wanting to see his mark legitimately broken so there is no more question about who the rightful owner is.

“I just want to be recognized for the record,” Gastineau said. “You wouldn’t want your son getting a record like that. I don’t think it’s good for the NFL. It was never good for the NFL, and I’m surprised the NFL didn’t step in.”

Strahan has talked in the past about his record feeling “diminished” because of what Favre did and in 2018 said he would be happy if someone such has the Rams’ Aaron Donald broke it.