Steven Douglas Strinko
Born: October 5th, 1952
Died: August 14th, 2023
Greg Strinko said his brother, one of Butler County’s most celebrated football players, lived “quite a life.”
Then he added: “But if you took out the bad parts it would have been incredible.”
Steve Strinko, a standout athlete at Lemon-Monroe High School and University of Michigan, battled drug addiction, his brother said. He stayed clean for years, then something would trigger his addiction, his brother said.
“When he hit the low, horrible things happened,” his brother said.
Steve Strinko died unexpectedly on Aug. 14 in Irving, Texas. He was 70.
He lived “a complicated life and a complicated death,” his 69-year-old brother said.
Strinko lettered in basketball, track and football in high school, breaking the school record for the shot put and breaking his brother, Ed’s, tackling record. He received the prestigious award for Athlete of the Year in the Greater Cincinnati Area presented to him by legendary Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian and was elected first-team All-State.
He was heavily recruited by national powers and was invited to watch Super Bowl V with then-Ohio State University football Coach Woody Hayes and his wife.
But he turned down OSU and signed to play at Michigan under then-Coach Bo Schembechler. He started three seasons at inside linebacker and was named team’s Most Valuable Player in 1974, his senior year.
He was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but an aggravated knee injury ended his professional career in 1975.
“It was tough for me,” Strinko said quietly during a 2016 interview in the Journal-News. “Football was all I knew and it was over.”
Greg said his brother cared deeply about his teammates and other athletes who may have incurred injury or were struggling with life after their athletic careers. He created a non-profit organization called FAN (Foundation for Athletes in Need).
He also took dedicated care of his father, Tom, and mother, Earlene, at their end of life, his brother said. While caring for his mother in 2016, Strinko finished up the requirements for his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan where head football Coach Jim Harbaugh presented him his diploma. He then obtained a master’s degree from from Liberty University.
In 2016, Strinko was one of the four former college football players who filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in hopes of raising awareness and providing treatment for any disease, condition or problem tied to playing football at an NCAA school.
At the time, Strinko, then 63, said he showed no symptoms of severe cognitive trauma or memory loss, Parkinson’s, or increased dementia, but had struggled in areas that research shows may be tied to the continual head contact like depression, mood disorders, addiction and mild memory loss.
Strinko’s lawsuit named the NCAA and the Big Ten. Besides Strinko, the other plaintiffs were former Ohio State player Ray Griffin, brother of Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, former Duke player Derrick Lee, and former Tennessee player O.J. Owens.
Strinko said the lawsuit was “all about the future of football.” He said he hoped the attention the lawsuits generated would help make the sport safer by teaching proper techniques that minimize traumatic brain damage.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Carol Ann Strinko. He’s survived by his sons Steven and Aaron, and brothers, Ed and Greg.
Funeral services have not been released. Greg said he hopes to have a celebration of life in the Middletown area.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
Steven Douglas Strinko
1952 - 2023
Cemetery and Burial Information
Woodside Cemetery & Arboretum
1401 S Woodside Blvd
Middletown, OH 45044