Justin Conrad Strzelczyk (August 18, 1968 - September 30, 2004) was a former American football offensive lineman who played nine seasons in the NFL, all for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1990-1998 and helped the team at a Super Bowl birth. He can also be seen in the 1997 Adam Sandler music video, The Lonesome Kicker. There Strzelczyk plays himself as he steals the kicker's "snow shoe" and taunts him throughout the video along with fellow Steeler teammates Jerome Bettis, Greg Lloyd and Kordell Stewart.
Strzelczyk was born in West Seneca, New York. He attended West Seneca West Senior High School, followed by the University of Maine. He died in a car accident at the age of 36 in Herkimer, New York, when he hit a tank truck while driving 90 miles per hour against the flow of traffic to evade capture by the police.
It was initially thought that Strzelczyk was under the influence of alcohol or drugs due to his irrational behavior, but this was disproved by toxicity tests. A post-mortem autopsy revealed that he had suffered from brain damage, likely due to his years of playing football.
This incident helped to begin a debate about the seriousness of concussions at the June 2007 NFL Summit. There Bennet Omalu, a Pittsburgh neuropathologist, who has linked the deaths in recent years of four retired NFL players to brain damage from football. The cases involve former Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters and three former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen: Mike Webster, Terry Long and Strzelczyk. Webster died of a heart attack, Waters and Long committed suicide. Omalu says each death followed a similar line: football concussions, leading to brain damage similar to dementia pugilistica (also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in boxers, leading to clinical depression. It was previously thought to only exist in boxers and steeplechase jockeys.
A PUZZLING, DARK DESTINY ; WHAT LED JUSTIN STRZELCZYK, WEST SENECA NATIVE AND FORMER NFL LINEMAN, TO HIS DEATH IS THE MYSTERY HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS WISH THEY COULD SOLVE
Oct 24, 2004; Nobody will ever know what the big man was thinking. For hours, he drove alone in his pickup truck for reasons uncertain, his...