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.