Justin Strzelczyk – Bio, Family, NFL, Car Accident & Death

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Football is one of the most thrilling sports, but it is also one of the most dangerous sports in the sporting world.

Many NFL players have lost their life due to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a drawback of playing football. Justin Strzelczyk is one of those players. 

Late Justin Strzelczyk was an American football athlete of the NFL who played as an offensive tackle for nine full seasons after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1990 NFL draft. 

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin Strzelczyk

Moreover, Justin’s death in a car accident was one of the main reasons for the debate held at the 2007 NFL Summit regarding the link between athletes playing football and suffering from CTE. 

Furthermore, let’s look into the life of a late football athlete Justin Strzelczyk. First, here are some quick about the offensive tackler. 

Justin Strzelczyk | Quick Facts 

Full Name  Justin Conrad Strzelczyk
Birth Date August 18th, 1968
Birth Place West Seneca, New York
Death Date September 30th, 2004 (36 years)
Nickname Jughead, Jugger 
Religion Not Available
Nationality American
Education West Seneca West Senior High, University of Maine
Horoscope Leo
Father’s Name Connie Strzelczyk
Mother’s Name Mary Joyce
Siblings Melissa 
Height 6’6” (1.98 m)
Weight 305 lbs (138 kgs)
Build Muscular
Shoe Size Not Available
Eye Color Grey
Hair Color Dark Brown
Marital Status Divorced
Spouse   Keana McMahon
Children Justin Strzelczyk Jr., Sabrina Strzelczyk
Profession American Football Player
Draft 1990
Number 73
Position Offensive Tackle
Former Teams Pittsburgh Steelers
Net Worth $200 thousand
Awards and Achievements All-Conference First Team, All-American 
Social Media Instagram, Twitter 
Merch  Framed Photo Display
Last Update July, 2024

Justin Strzelczyk | Early Life, Family & Education 

Late NFL offensive tackler Justin Strzelczyk was born on August 18th, 1968, in West Seneca, New York, to Connie Strzelczyk and Mary Joyce

Connie Strzelczyk, also famous as “Big Bird,” was a standout basketball player from 1958 to 1960 at Montana State University.

After playing collegiate basketball for two years, Connie came to Buffalo and became a school teacher.

Also, during the summer, he took painting contracts. Moreover, Justin’s parents were separated when he was only seven years old. 

Growing up, Justin played several kinds of sports like football, basketball, and hockey. He also played baseball and was a pitcher until his shoulder pain prevented him from playing baseball.

According to Justin’s mother, his father was the most significant influence on him towards pursuing sports and being active in them.

In May 1998, his father Connie died in a drunk-driving accident after being paralyzed. 

Furthermore, Justin’s birthdate falls under the sun sign of Leo. People with Leo as their sun sign are known for their comfortable, loyal, and confident nature.


High School 

Moving onto Justin’s educational background, he attended West Seneca Senior High School in West Seneca, New York.

During Strzelczyk’s high school years, he was always active in basketball, and with his 6’5″ height, he played in the position of a forward. 

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin’s family received Golden Football at West Seneca.

Moreover, Justin recorded an average of 21 points per game and 22 points per game as a junior and senior in high school, respectively.

Because of his records, Justin won the All-Western New York honors and became the local basketball star. 

Thus, because of his basketball accomplishments at high school, for college Justin was set to play basketball despite his love for football.

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However, Justin’s father convinced him that he had a better future in football because he was the prime example, which shows how even after pursuing basketball in college, he ended up in a teaching position. 

Furthermore, West Seneca West High School retired Justin’s football jersey #46 on October 16th, 2009.


For college, Justin decided to attend the University of Maine and play college football. During his time on the college’s football team, they won two Yankee Conference honors. 

According to his college teammates, Justin hated steroids and stated that his weight resulted from weight training and eating.

Strzelczyk also got his nickname “Jughead,” the Archie comics character during his college years. 

Moreover, Justin participated in the East-West Shrine Game held in California in January 1990.

During the game, Justin impressed Chuck Noll, then-Steelers coach, who later drafted him during the 1990 NFL Draft’s 11th round. 

Justin Strzelczyk | Career and Profession 

Pittsburgh Steelers

After Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Justin during the 1990 NFL Draft, he made it to the Steelers roster after training camp and moved to Plum, Pittsburgh.

During the first two seasons, Justin represented the Steeler’s special teams. 

Unfortunately, after Steeler’s right tackle Tunch IIkin got injured and missed the 1992 NFL season’s four games, Justin jumped to the team with the starting duty.

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin is playing for the Steelers.

Moreover, as a starter, Justin started in 75 out of 133 games of the season, where he started at every line position of the team, leaving the center position. 

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Furthermore, during games, Justin would pick up the red phone from the Steelers’ sideline and scream at the team’s offensive coordinator, Ron Erhardt, Chan Gailey, and Ray Sherman stating- “Run the damn ball!.”

Justin was one of the key elements of the Pittsburgh Steelers toward reaching Super Bowl XXX.

Unfortunately, five months after the 1992 NFL season, during the Monday Night Football tournament while playing against the Kansas City Chiefs, Justin injured his quadriceps and had to go through season-ending surgery two days later. 

Likewise, in March 1999, Justin injured his knee after getting involved in a bar fight and had to go through another surgery, which ended his appearance the next season as well.

Thus, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed Strzelczyk on the injured list and paid him $187,000, a portion of $1.5 million that he was supposed to earn for representing the Steelers. 

On January 24th, 2000, Justin injured his bicep while celebrating a victory in a hockey game. His continuous occurrence of injuries made the Steelers waive Justin from the team.

Music Video

Justin performed in the 1997’s Adam Sandler music video called “The Lonesome Kicker,” where he played as himself and stole the kicker’s “snowshoe” and mocked him throughout the video beside fellow Steeler teammates Kordell Stewart, Jerome Bettis, and Greg Lloyd. 

Other Interests 

After signing with the Steelers, Justin took an interest in riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He bought his first bike in Oakland with teammates Jerry Olsavsky and Ariel Solomon.

After celebrating his bike purchase with his teammates, Justin bumped into several parked cars. The bump caused a dent in his fuel tank. 

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin Strzelczyk with his banjo 

Likewise, Justin also took an interest in playing guitar and banjo, reading books, watching videos, day trading, and cribbage.  

Moreover, after the Steelers waived Justin out of the team, he looked for various ways to fill up his time.

He took an interest in cooking and started making barbecue sauces and buffalo wings. Similarly, Justin also rode his motorcycle in the motorcycle rally held in Sturgis, South Dakota. 

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Furthermore, Justin played music, acted in two plays, and skied. He also authored a book called Balance, which included his theory of evening out life’s stresses and enjoyments. 

He skied, played music, acted in two plays, and he wrote a book titled Balance, his theory about evening out life’s enjoyments and stresses.

Justin also financed a daycare with a check of around $17,000

Nonetheless, Justin also invested in several businesses that failed, and he ended up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, the monetary losses didn’t cripple Justin’s finances.

Justin Strzelczyk | Net Worth 

While representing the Steelers throughout Justin’s career, he was undoubtedly a skilled offensive tackler. However, due to his continuous injuries, his professional career ended sooner. 

Not much information is available regarding Justin’s career earnings. However, after reviewing the NFL player’s salaries, we can state that- 

The presumable net worth of Justin Strzelczyk falls around $200 thousand. 

Justin Strzelczyk | Issues with the Police 

Justin was also known for constantly getting into issues with the police after his career and being a football athlete ended.

He was once arrested and charged for carrying a firearm without any authorized permit in November 2000. 

However, the handgun belonged to his friend that he possessed after getting into a discussion over gun control, which resulted in him wielding the weapon for some time. 

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin Strzelczyk’s helmet

Moreover, Justin was known for being a heavy drinker, just like his father. In early 2003, the authorities cited Justin for Driving Under the Influence, which resulted in the suspension of his driver’s license for a year.

Besides, the sentence was reduced to two months after some time. 

In Late 2003, Justin suddenly refused to have alcohol and drugs, including prescription medication, which came off as a shock to his family members as it was out of his usual nature. 

Justin Strzelczyk | Death 

On September 30th, 2004, Justin was supposed to arrive for a fundraiser at Orchard Park, New York. He packed some crucifixes and $2,600-plus in cash with him and left his phone at home. 

Unfortunately, Justin hit a tank truck while driving at 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), which was against the flow of traffic, and as a result, he died because of the crash.

The accident occurred in Herkimer, New York, and at the time of the accident, he was 36 years old.

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin and his father’s tombstone

Justin’s death place is present in the Saint Stanislaus Roman Catholic Cemetery located in Cheektowaga, New York.

How did Justin Strzelczyk get his concussion?

Initially, the cause of Justin’s death was proclaimed as under the influence of alcohol or other drugs due to his irritational behavior while driving at the time of the accident.

However, the claimed cause was disproved by toxicity tests. 

Moreover, Justin’s postmortem autopsy revealed that he suffered from severe brain damage because of his years as a football athlete.

Here is an in-depth article issued by the Washington Post regarding Justin’s death After Football, a Tragic Free Fall

Furthermore, in 2007, Justin’s mother, Mary Joyce, allowed Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist, to examine Strzelczyk’s brain.

Nonetheless, the case caused a series of debates regarding the seriousness of concussions during the National Football League Summit held in June 2007. 

After Bennet Omalu linked Justin’s death to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that was seen in other three retired NFL players, Andre Waters, Terry Long, and Mike Webster. 

In 2007, Justin’s mother, Mary Joyce, allowed Bennet Omalu to examine Strzelczyk’s brain, and in 2015 a film called Concussion aired where Matt Willig played the role of Justin. 

The film portrayed the efforts of Omalu, who struggled against the efforts by the NFL to contain his research on brain damage.

Which was sustained by professional football athletes called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that football athletes sustain from taking repeated hits to the head, which caused damage to the brain.

Justin Strzelczyk | Wife and Children 

Justin married Keana McMahon in early 1993. However, because of his heavy drinking habit, the couple faced many problems as a married couple. Thus, they got divorced in 2001.

Justin Strzelczyk
Justin Strzelczyk with his family

Moreover, Justin and Keana have two children together, a son named Justin Strzelczyk Jr. and a daughter named Sabrina Strzelczyk. 

Justin Strzelczyk | Social Media Presence

Justin’s social media presence is absent. However, you can still check out posts about him from his fans through his hashtag handles included below. 


Twitter #justinstrzelczyk

Common Queries about Justin Strzelczyk

How old was Justin Strzelczyk at the time of his death? 

Justin was 36 years old at the time of his death. 

What is Justin Strzelczyk’s career statistic like?

Justin Strzelczyk had played a total of 133 games in total during his career where he maintained an approximate value of 36 and saved 75 goals. 

Aaditya Bhatta
Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta is a dynamic writer and sports enthusiast, whose passion for both realms is reflected in his work. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Aaditya brings a unique perspective to his writing, captivating readers with his engaging content.


Sports Analysis Content Creation


  • Aaditya has consistently delivered insightful analysis and captivating content across various platforms.
  • From in-depth match reports to thought-provoking opinion pieces, Aaditya's versatility shines through in his ability to tackle diverse topics


Aaditya's journey as a writer and sports aficionado began at a young age when he discovered his passion for both pursuits. Throughout his academic and professional endeavors, Aaditya has honed his skills in content creation and sports analysis, immersing himself in the intricacies of the games he loves.

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