Nick Buoniconti: biography
The Springfield-born, Nicholas Buoniconti started a football career in NFL in 1962, as a rookie of Boston Patriots. He was playing for Boston Patriots in 1962–1968 and for Miami Dolphins in 1969–1974, 1976. He was most frequently recognized for his contributions to the Miami Dolphins’ “No-Name Defense” and their undefeated season in 1972. Also, Nick was a Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
Nick died on July 30, 2019, at the age of 78. Nick garnered his net worth over 12 years of his professional career. On top of his glorious career, Nick enjoyed a massive net worth, estimated at $83 million.
Childhood and youth
Nicholas’s birthplace was Springfield. He was born to his parents on December 15, 1940. He spent his childhood in a 100-percent Italian neighborhood. It was a really friendly community. Everybody looked after everybody’s child. A church played a very important role in hard-working families’ lives.
Nick was an altar boy for six years. He studied at the Catholic grammar school. Soon he entered Cathedral High School. Nick’s father was deeply involved in sport. He played baseball on a pitcher position and was a great bowler. A father and a son liked to play baseball together. Nick learned various tricks from his father. And baseball became his second love. The first one was football.
Nick’s school football team was terrific. In his sophomore year, the team went undefeated. A curious incident happened with Nick at the end of the season. During the eighth week, Nick got injured, hurting his knee. That’s why he was going to miss the final season’s game. The Cathedral went undefeated before that game, and nobody wanted to interrupt a successful series. One of Nick’s coaches didn’t know about his injury and had him get in full uniform and go out and stretch before the game. Nick won that game, set the new school’s record.
College football career
In 1960 Nick graduated and was preparing to enter college. The recruiting process was rather simple those times. Colleges just sent paperwork to houses of potential first-year students, letting them know about the program and what they offered.
Buoniconti decided to enter the University of Notre Dame and soon joined its Fighting Irish football team. Nick immediately became the starting player and its captain. He was second in stats in his debut college season. Next year he was leading stats player, recognized by several national associations.
Professional football career
In 1962, Buoniconti went on AFL College Draft. He became the rookie of the Boston Patriots. At the end of his debut season, Nick became the best Patriots’ rookie. In 1963 the team was the best in the division. Thanks to his outstanding game, Nick was named to All-Star Game six times during his career in Boston.
In 1968 Nick appeared only in eight games. At the end of the season, he was traded to Miami Dolphins. He continued to conquer the league with his skills and received his final Pro Bowl selection in his debut season for Dolphins. It was rather strange, as the club won the league twice in 1972 and 1973 and Buoniconti was one of the main keys to success.
Nick became the backbone defense player of Dolphins. Moreover, the 1972 season was written in the franchise’s history book, as Miami didn’t lose any game. That season remained the team’s monument, but in 1973, on the way to another Super Bowl title, the Dolphins allowed even fewer points, just five touchdowns passed all season, and Buoniconti set a team record with 162 tackles. In 1969 – 1974 Nick spent all 81 games, started all of them.
A broken right thumb forced him to miss the 1975 season, and he gladly began working as a CBS analyst. A spate of injuries prompted the Dolphins to ask him back in ’76, twice; Buoniconti demanded $125,000 and got it. He started just four games that season, then said goodbye for good. He was 36, certain he’d gotten out clean.
After he retired, Nick worked as an attorney, football agent, TV critic, and even co-host of several TV programs. Also, he was a guest on several TV shows. In 2001 Buoniconti was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In February 2019, HBO released a documentary, called The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti.
The movie offered an absorbing glimpse into Nick’s remarkable life packed with enormous professional success but devastating personal loss. It was appropriate that HBO produced this special, considering Buoniconti opined for 23 years as a commentator on the network’s Inside The NFL.
Buoniconti’s first wife was his high school sweetheart Teresa Marie Salamano. They tied the knot in 1962 and split up in 1997. For their 35 year marriage, they got three children, two sons, Marc and Nicholas III, and a daughter Gina Marie. In 1985 their son Marc suffered a paralyzing injury while playing college football for The Citadel.
As a result of an accident, Marc crushed his spinal cord and knew he had broken his neck. Lying on the ground, barely breathing, he felt like he was suffocating and could barely utter a sound. He was gently placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital where doctors shoved a painful tube down his throat and put him on a respirator, the machine that kept him alive.
The young athlete was told that he would have no use of his body from the shoulders down, rendering him a quadriplegic. Since then, Nick and Marc have been dedicated to finding a cure for paralyzing spinal cord injuries. Their work with The Miami Project and Buoniconti Fund has raised more than $400 million for research, and their efforts were ongoing.
In 1995, Nick met his second wife, Lynn Weiss. They met at the Dakota bar. Lynn was 12 years younger than Buoniconti. She was an entrepreneur at heart and owned travel business. When they started dating, Nick was still married to Teresa. She became furious when she found out about Lynn and their relationship.
On September 19, 2017, Marc Buoniconti issued his story fighting paralysis in his book Undefeated: From Tragedy to Triumph. The same time, his brother, Nicholas III, graduated the Duke University, earned a degree in BA.
Nick Buoniconti died on July 30, 2019. He was 78. Initially, the cause of death was unknown, but soon, various sources reported that great football player died after a battle with dementia. In 2017 Nick started suffering from memory loss and planned to donate his brain to further the study of concussions after his death. He went public with his health issues, reported:
"This is not easy; it's difficult. I'm not half the man I used to be. I don't do this for myself. I do it for the thousands of others who will follow me. My life, as I know it, has been taken away from me. ... I hope that my story and contribution will help thousands of others who are on this journey, or who will follow me."
In a statement after Buoniconti’s death, Hall of Fame president David Baker said:
“Nick Buoniconti was a true hero of the game. … He lived a life of honor and nobility, and his legacy will live forever through his bronzed bust in Canton, Ohio.”
Achievements and awards
- 1963 – 1967, 1969 – AFL All-Star
- 1972, 1973 – Super Bowl champion
- 1972, 1973 – Pro Bowl
- 2001 – Pro Football Hall of Fame