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Football And Humanity Share The Loss With Wednesday’s Death Of Hall Of Fame Linebacker Nick Buoniconti

Remembering The Football Legend Nick Buoniconti The undersized linebacker was a giant in so many ways. And the contributions he made to medicine and society may carry on. Nick...

(Photo Credit: AP)

Remembering The Football Legend Nick Buoniconti

The undersized linebacker was a giant in so many ways. And the contributions he made to medicine and society may carry on.

Nick Buoniconti died Wednesday at 78. A standout with the then-Boston Patriots and Miami Dolphins, Buoniconti declined physically and mentally in his later years – and 78 is not all that old these days – and said he believed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disorder that results from too many hits to the head.

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, Buoniconti was best remembered as the soul of Miami’s No-Name Defense that carried the club to the only undefeated season in NFL history (1972) and consecutive Super Bowl victories. He is the only member of that defense in the Hall of Fame. He earned his law degree while playing for the Patriots and later was president of the United States Tobacco Company.

If football damaged his body and mind, never forget what it did to his family as well and the response. His son Marc was paralyzed from the neck down during a college football game and Nick helped form and fund The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

“His groundbreaking work with The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has made a huge difference in the lives of so many people. I am thankful to have had Nick in my life. I will miss him,” Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula said in a statement.

It remains a cruel irony that, Buoniconti, one of the first stars of HBO’s Inside the NFL, would, at the end of his life, struggle for words and to maintain the thread of his thoughts.

It should be no surprise that Buoniconti had said he intended to donate his brain to CTE research. He got things done in life. He will get things done in death. And he will be missed.

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