A long-time NFL media figure has passed away. As per ESPN, Nick Buoniconti died at 78 Tuesday in Bridgehampton, New York. He played guard and linebacker at Notre Dame and then was selected in the 13th round of the 1962 AFL draft by the Boston Patriots; he’d play for them for seven years before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he won two Super Bowls and was a key part of their undefeated 1972 season.
Buoniconti then went on to a wide variety of post-career roles. He earned a law degree while with the Patriots, worked as a sports agent (including representing Andre Dawson and Bucky Dent), became president of the U.S. Tobacco Company, spent 23 years co-hosting Inside The NFL on HBO (alongside Len Dawson and later Cris Collinsworth as well; Buoniconti’s seen at left above with Dawson) on HBO, and launched the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Buoniconti Fund after his son Marc was paralyzed during a college football game in 1985.
In recent years, Buoniconti spoke out about neurological issues he was facing (including suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE), vowing to donate his brain to research after his death and joining efforts from Boston University and other former NFL stars to lobby for kids under 14 to play flag football rather than tackle football. Buoniconti was also the subject of a HBO documentary that premiered in February, The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti. Here’s a trailer for that:
HBO Sports executive producer Rick Bernstein put out a statement Wednesday paying tribute to Buoniconti:
“Nick Buoniconti lived an extraordinary life. He accomplished virtually everything he set his sights on in life. He was a trailblazer. Pairing him with Len Dawson on INSIDE THE NFL for 23 years is an unforgettable part of football television history. And then having the blessing of Nick and his wife, Lynn, to chronicle his lifelong journey and produce a documentary earlier this year is an important part of our heritage at HBO Sports. It was vintage Nick Buoniconti : honest, raw and to the point. Everybody at HBO Sports is grateful to have had Nick as a friend, colleague and part of our family. We send our condolences to the Buoniconti family.”
Our thoughts go out to the Buoniconti family. For those interested in the documentary on him, it can be viewed here through HBO Now or HBO Go.