Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, whose resume encompasses turns as a linebacker, lawyer, sports agent, broadcaster, executive and philanthropist, shares his story on HBO.
“Nick Buoniconti has lived an extraordinary life,” said Rick Bernstein, executive producer, HBO Sports. “We are grateful that Nick and his wife, Lynn, agreed to allow us to present the many chapters of this compelling story in the manner that Nick would expect it to be told: honest, raw and to the point.”
The son of a baker in the south end of Springfield, Massachusetts, Nick Buoniconti’s early inner-drive propelled him to a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame in 1958, where he’d become a captain and All-American. Though Buoniconti was considered undersized for the pros, he became a star defensive player in the AFL with the Boston Patriots, and later, with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. As the starting middle linebacker under legendary coach Don Shula, he anchored the Dolphins’ famed “No Name Defense,” tied to Super Bowl glory and the only perfect season in NFL history in 1972.
With a law degree in hand that he’d earned at night while playing football, Buoniconti quickly transitioned into a successful attorney and sports agent after retiring from the NFL in 1976. In 1979, he also became a television star when he started co-hosting with Len Dawson HBO’s Inside the NFL, a job he’d have for more than two decades.
But in the fall of 1985, life changed suddenly and tragically for Buoniconti when his youngest son Marc was paralyzed from the neck down while playing football at The Citadel. While grieving his son’s injury, Nick made a promise: he wouldn’t rest until Marc walked again. Months later, he co-founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which would become a world-renowned spinal cord and brain research center.
Now in his 70's, Buoniconti's own health began to deteriorate in recent years. He is nearly immobile and suffering from severe neurological problems that include warning signs of CTE. Despite his condition, Buoniconti established a research fund with his wife and will donate his brain for scientific study upon his death.
The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti premieres on February 12 at 10 PM.