Dolphins Hall of Fame linebacker Buoniconti dead at 78

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"Today is a sad day for Patriots and Dolphins fans alike, as we mourn the loss of the legendary Nick Buoniconti", said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.

Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, a member of the Miami Dolphins during that team's undefeated 1972 season, died, a spokesman for his family said Wednesday.

Ahead of the 1969 season, Buoniconti was traded to Miami where he spent seven years and played under and alongside fellow Hall of Famers Don Shula, Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield.

The Hall of Fame linebacker had been battling dementia and showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which was highlighted in HBO's documentary "The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti".

Mr. Buoniconti won two Super Bowl rings, his first with the Dolphins in 1972 to complete the last ideal season by an National Football League team.

With that, Buoniconti pledged in 2017 to donate his brain for research.

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"Nick Buoniconti was a true hero of the game". I always loved [the game]. He was the leader of Miami's famed "No-Name Defense, " and in 1973 he set a team record with 162 tackles.

Buoniconti and his son Marc, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down as a result of a football injury, also spearheaded the establishment of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, one of the world's leading research and treatment centers for spinal cord injuries.

MIAMI (AP) - Pro Football Hall of Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti, an undersized overachiever who helped lead the Miami Dolphins to the NFL's only flawless season and became a leader in the effort to cure paralysis, has died at the age of 78. "He selflessly gave all to football, to his family and to those who are less fortunate". His off-field and post-career contributions were just as notable, though. His tireless efforts to help raise money for paralysis research made him a hero to many. "We can best honor his dedication and endless commitment by continuing with our work until that promise is fulfilled and a cure is found".

"This is not easy, it's hard". "I don't do this for myself".

During an interview, Buoniconti once said of his condition, "I'm positive that football caused this". I had no alternative; there was no other way for me to get a college education. He lived a life of honor and nobility and his legacy will live forever through his Bronzed Bust in Canton, Ohio.

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