Hall-of-Fame LB Nick Buoniconti dead at 78

Ron Borges

One of the American Football League's greatest linebackers, Nick Buoniconti, passed away Wednesday at 78 after a lengthy battle with dementia and the ravages of CTE.

He was 78.

A former 13th-round draft choice of the then-Boston Patriots, Buoniconti became a starting middle linebacker and the defensive anchor of Don Shula's undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team that went 17-0.

He played on two Super Bowl-winning teams in Miami before retiring. Then, 20 years after he had first been eligible for induction, Buoniconti was elected to the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2001.

Thereafter he had successful careers in both business and broadcasting, but his greatest work was done for the Miami Project, a charitable fund he began after his son, Marc, broke his neck and was paralyzed while playing football for the Citadel.

The Miami Project raised over $450 million for research into paralysis and successfully changed the lives of many.

"Nick Buoniconti was a true hero of the game," Pro Football Hall-of-Fame president and CEO David Baker said. "His inspiring Hall-of-Fame journey that started as a 13th-round draft choice to leading the Dolphins' 'No Name Defense' is one filled with grit, determination, courage and compassion.

"Nick's contributions off the field were even greater than what he did on it. He lived a life of honor and nobility, and his honor will live forever through his Bronzed Bust in Canton, Ohio."

Below is a link to Buonictoni's obituary.

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