Pro Football Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who helped lead the Miami Dolphins to the NFL’s only perfect season, has died at the age of 78.
Family spokesman Bruce Bobbins said that Buoniconti died Tuesday in Bridgehampton, New York. In recent years, Buoniconti struggled with symptoms of CTE, a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. He had recently battled pneumonia, Dolphins senior vice president Nat Moore said.
The 5-11, 220-pound Buoniconti was captain of the Dolphins’ back-to-back Super Bowl champions, including the 1972 team that finished 17-0. Buoniconti played for the Dolphins from 1969 to 1974 and in 1976. He was the leader of Miami’s famed “No-Name Defense” and in 1973 he set a team record with 162 tackles. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. Buoniconti was chosen for the all-time AFL team in 1970, and for the NFL Pro Bowl in 1972 and 1973.
Following retirement, Buoniconti and his son, Marc, worked to raise more than a half-billion dollars for paralysis research. The younger Buoniconti was paralyzed from the shoulders down making a tackle for The Citadel in 1985. He also worked as an attorney, a broadcaster, as president of U.S. Tobacco and as an agent to such athletes as Bucky Dent and Andre Dawson. For 23 seasons he was co-host of the weekly sports show “Inside the NFL” on the HBO cable network.
Editorial credit: Alena Veasey / Shutterstock.com