For 14 years, Nick Buoniconti decimated offenses. Then, the erosion set in.
Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, a member of the undefeated 1972 team, has suffered falls, memory loss, and confusion, among other issues, according to a Sports Illustrated story to be published Tuesday.
Buoniconti played for 14 seasons, including seven with the Dolphins, and made eight Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
“I feel lost,” Buoniconti told Sports Illustrated. “I feel like a child.”
Following his playing career, Buoniconti hosted Inside the NFL with former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson from 1980-2001. After his son Marc was left paralyzed while making a tackle in a game for The Citadel, he started the The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in 1985.
Sports Illustrated shared a preview of the full story in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column on The MMQB. In the excerpt, Buoniconti, 76, said that “at 55 I was very normal. I’m not normal anymore.”
Even as recently as last November, Buoniconti served as emcee before a full house at a Legends Invitational dinner in California, according to Sports Illustrated. But he had trouble exiting the stage and called for his wife, Lynn, to assist him in the restroom.
Buoniconti also fell backward down some stairs and afterward told his wife, “I should just kill myself! It doesn’t matter!”
Buoniconti told the Miami Herald that he revealed the details of his current state “… for all the guys who don’t have a voice and are suffering like I’m suffering. It’s not getting any better.”
“This has been my dad’s reality for a while now, and it’s been a frustrating and heartbreaking journey,” Marc Buoniconti said in a statement. “To see him like this after all he’s done to help others breaks my heart, and makes me want to do everything I can to find some answers for him and the countless other athletes dealing with these issues. We ask for your continued support as we try to help my father as he wages his courageous battle.”