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Former Jets Mark Gastineau, Wesley Walker excited about team's prospects in 2015

Former New York Jets All-Pro defensive lineman Mark

Former New York Jets All-Pro defensive lineman Mark Gastineau, left, and former Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker participate in a halftime ceremony inducting them into the Jets' Ring of Honor during a game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

A pair of former Jets cannot wait for the 2015 season.

Mark Gastineau and Wesley Walker, who met and signed autographs for fans at the Pat Cairo Family Foundation's 19th annual golf tournament Tuesday at Lido Beach Golf Course, said they have closely followed the Jets since they last played in the NFL in the late 1980s.

"Now we've got something to get excited about," said Gastineau, a five-time Pro Bowler and the franchise's leader with 107.5 sacks. "It's a complete new feeling out there."

Gastineau was referring to new coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, who made a handful of notable offseason moves.

They signed Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to bolster the secondary. They re-signed David Harris to fortify their corps of linebackers, and they traded for five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

"They look great out there," said Gastineau, who attended a practice recently.

Walker, a two-time Pro Bowl receiver, said he expects quarterback Geno Smith to benefit from Marshall's presence.

"I was really impressed with Geno the day I went to the practice, and Brandon Marshall, he looked phenomenal," Walker said. "He's huge. He was as big as Mark Gastineau, just as a receiver."

Though the Jets have reason to be excited, there have been no premature declarations of superiority, a la Rex Ryan. That has been refreshing to Gastineau.

"Nothing against Rex, because I used to have the same kind of mouth, but now you don't hear too much," he said.

Gastineau and Walker's appearance Tuesday at the fundraiser for cancer also was personal. Gastineau said he recently overcame basal cell carcinoma, a former of skin cancer. Walker said he has a close friend that is currently fighting cancer.

"That's why I'm here, because I know it's something that can come up like a thief in the night -- all of a sudden it's there," Gastineau, 58, said. "I was fortunate and I was blessed because I could have lost my leg. I was just a few days away from losing my leg."

The 60-year-old Walker has had his share of health problems, which he said stem from his 13-year NFL career, all spent with the Jets. Walker, whose story was told in Newsday's Life After Football series in January, said he underwent back surgery nearly a year and a half ago.

"I'm just starting to feel better where I can get up without having to struggle and walk," he said.

He said he also frequently forgets things as simple as where he is going.

"I'll be driving and I'm going 30 minutes away and I'll end up near the city," he said. "I'll be like, 'Where am I?' "

But health issues aside, Gastineau and Walker are excited for the Jets' season.

"With the receiving corps that they do have and the other additions they made," Walker said, "they're going to be a force to be reckoned with."


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