Two former New England Patriots players are currently part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame election process. Ty Law and Richard Seymour have made it all the way to the semifinals and if they advance all the way to Canton either this year or at one point in the future (as they should), they will join former franchise greats as wearers of the famed golden jacket. John Hannah. Mike Haynes. Andre Tippett. And: Nick Buoniconti.
Buoniconti, a member of the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team and team Hall of Fame, played seven seasons for the organization when it was still competing in the upstart American Football League. Between 1962, when he was drafted in the 13th round, and 1968, he appeared in 93 games for the team and was the heart of the its defense — all while being voted AFL all-star (the equivalent of today’s Pro Bowl) five times.
In one of the most questionable moves in Patriots history, however, the franchise decided to trade him in his prime to the Miami Dolphins. In Florida, Buoniconti would add two Super Bowl titles and two more Pro Bowl selections to his already impressive résumé. In 1976, after eight years with the Dolphins, the Massachusetts native decided to retire from the now-NFL. 25 years later, he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His on-field life is just one of many lived by Buoniconti — and as announced by HBO yesterday, all of them will be the subject of a new feature-length documentary produced by HBO. The aptly titled film The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti, narrated by actor Liev Schreiber, will premier on Tuesday, February 12 at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO. And it will be far more than just a highlight reel, that much is certain.
“Nick Buoniconti has lived an extraordinary life,” HBO executive producer Rick Bernstein said. “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 documentary’s honesty also captures the most difficult phases of Buoniconti’s life: the health of his son and himself
His son Marc was paralyzed from the neck down in 1985 as a result of an on-field injury, which led to the creation of the Buoniconti Fund that has now raised more than $450 million in support of spinal cord-injury and paralysis research. Buoniconti’s own health began to decline in his early 70s and he is now showing signs of CTE. “I’m not normal anymore,” Buoniconti told Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price in 2017 about his health issues. “I feel lost. I feel like a child.”