Dolphins Hall of Fame linebacker Buoniconti dead at 78

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 perfect season and became a leader in the effort to cure paralysis, has died at the age of 78.

Buoniconti died Tuesday in Bridgehampton, New York, said Bruce Bobbins, a family spokesman.

In recent years, Buoniconti struggled with symptoms of CTE, a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. He had recently battled pneumonia, Dolphins senior vice president Nat Moore said.

The 5-11, 220-pound Buoniconti was bypassed in the NFL draft but went on to a 15-year career. He was captain of the Dolphins' back-to-back Super Bowl champions, including the 1972 team that finished 17-0.

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