Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti dies at 78

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The family of Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti announced on Wednesday that he has died at the age of 78.

Buoniconti was a 13th round pick of the Patriots in the 1962 AFL Draft after playing tackle at Notre Dame, but switched to linebacker and went on to make five All-Star teams in his first six years with the team. He was traded to the Dolphins and continued to excel as a fixture of the No-Name Defense that helped the Dolphins win two straight Super Bowls under head coach Don Shula.

Buoniconti played his final season in 1976 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

After retiring as a player, Buoniconti remained in the football world as a co-host of Inside the NFL. He also supported research into treatments for paralysis after his son Marc was paralyzed by a neck injury suffered while playing football.

Marc Buoniconti remembered his father with a post on the website of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

“My dad has been my hero and represents what I have always aspired to be; a leader, a mentor and a champion.  He selflessly gave all to football, to his family and to those who are less fortunate.  He made a promise to me that turned into a revolution in paralysis research. We can best honor his dedication and endless commitment by continuing with our work until that promise is fulfilled and a cure is found.”

In recent years, Buoniconti was outspoken about the belief that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as a result of hits to the head during his football career. He said he would donate his brain to CTE research after his death.

Our condolences go out to Buoniconti’s family and loved ones.

57 responses to “Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti dies at 78

  1. RIP It was a good run. Lot’s of champagne toast when the final team each year was defeated.

  2. ughhh

    this is one stings. Nick was the consummate pro on and off the field as well his post playing days! It is a real shame it until 2001 to get in the HOF

  3. God Bless him and the “NO NAME” defense. He was a great leader,player. and human being.

  4. I loved watching him and Len Dawson on Inside the NFL in the early ’80’s.

  5. Mr. Buoniconti was a great player, and, by all accounts, a great person. Some relatives of mine were lucky enough to meet him, decades ago, in a small town in Florida, he was very gracious, and genuinely happy that the young folks recognized him. He let them wear his Super Bowl ring, and spent a good bit of time with them, he really made their day. R.I.P.

  6. The work he did for his son and others with spinal cord injuries is second to none. Props to him for his commitment and prays to his family.

  7. My handle here is Dolphins 72 in Spanish. I am a 51 year old man who was born and raised in Mexico until I was 18. I became a fan of the Dolphins as a 4 year old when they were dominating football. Nick Buoniconti was a big part of that.

    Long live the No Names!

  8. RIP Nick.
    After Marc’s life altering injury, I admire the way the Buoniconti family turned such a devastating experience into a positive with the formation and work of the Miami Project.

    Much respect to father and son.

  9. Nick Buoniconti was a great, under-sized lb’er. He had the heart and desire of a much bigger player. I remember watching him play for the Boston Patriots in the 60’s and he seemed to be all over the field.
    He was also champion off the field. When the tragedy of his son’s paralysis happened, Nick remained stoic and positive and did everything he could to promote research into helping those afflicted with paralysis. He was a particular hero to me because my son is paralyzed from an auto accident.
    God Bless You Nick and rest in peace.

  10. Didn’t know him from his paying days, but always enjoyed him on Inside the NFL. really admired him for his work on his son’s behalf after his injury. Condolences to the Buoniconti family.

    By the way, who gives a thumbs down to people wishing the best to a former HOF’er and his family?

  11. Loved watching him play against my team the Raiders !! Those were the day !!! Never forget him !!!!❤️💪🏻

  12. RIP, one of the greatest to ever play the game! One one of the coolest names for a LB. Rest easy big guy.

  13. I remember seeing some Inside the NFL footage (from late 90’s) that was cut, and one was of Dan Marino saying his lines then he fumbles the words and throws a temper tantrum/ rage fueled fit on the desk.

    Buoniconti was sitting there almost a little afraid of Marino, and said…’whoa!’

  14. It was sad he blamed football for his deterioration later in life, The game isn’t for everyone and you know the risks going in. Condolences to his family!

  15. Had the pleasure of meeting Marc in the late 80’s at Penrod’s in Miami, just a few years after his injury. Incredibly humble, respectful kid who didn’t want sympathy as he only wanted to bring awareness to the inherent dangers in a violent game. No doubt as to where he got his class and perspective from. RIP Nick.

  16. RIP.

    My older cousin played for ETSU in the game against the Citadel when Marc was injured.

    Seems like only yesterday, but I remember how much it shook him up to have been on the field when it happened.

    Nick really stepped up to the plate with fundraising for research after his sons injury.

    I knew him only in that aspect of his life as his playing days were before my time.

    By all accounts though a very good man and Miami has lost a legend.

  17. Rest in Peace #85. Did a lot ON the field, and a lot more off. Class act all the way.

    On a separate note, who are these trolls that love giving thumbs down to posts when someone passes away? Is life that boring? Do you get a giggle out of it? Maybe You can go online to a funeral home website and leave negative comments in the on-line guest books?

  18. ‘Inside the NFL’ with Nick and Len Dawson was my favourite show growing up… until Cris Collinsworth ruined it and stole their jobs!

  19. Inside The NFL with Nick and Lenny Dawson on HBO. Best football show on television in 1980.

  20. Great player. I can’t believe he had to wait 25 years before going into the Hall of Fame. He was the first team MLB on the all-time AFL team.

  21. Sad to hear he passed. Loved him on Inside the NFL. The NFL will never be the same as it was in the 90’s and the shows that where on the cover the league. Now it’s all money and politics.

  22. RIP Mr. B…you were a great man, player, father, philanthropist…..hated to see you deteriorate so quickly, but you are at rest now. RIP. Hope the Dolphins do some kind of tribute, because you gave your heart & soul to them on the field.

  23. RIP Nick. You were a class act on and especially off the field, not like the athletes of today. Another piece of my youth has gone. Getting old is tough when news like this happens.

  24. Loved watching him on Inside the NFL, back when that was one of the only ways to see highlights of all games.

  25. RIP Nick. You were a strong leader of a group of men that achieved perfection. It’s been nearly 50 years, so the achievement gets a little more awesome every year that it goes unmatched.

  26. Nick played at Notre Dame in the era of 2 way football. He started at Right Guard on offense and Middle Linebacker on defense. His last year there, 1961 season, as a Senior ( I was a Freshman) team went 5 – 5 under a terrible Coach – Joe Kuharich – who was fired a year later. Co Captain and a great Notre Dame man.

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