Miami Dolphins

Buoniconti to donate brain to CTE research

Dolphins legend Nick Buoniconti (left) with another Hall of Famer, former coach Don Shula
Dolphins legend Nick Buoniconti (left) with another Hall of Famer, former coach Don Shula

Former Miami Dolphins star Nick Buoniconti, who has said that his brain has been damaged by playing football, announced on Friday that he is donating his brain to CTE research upon his death.

CTE is short for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disease that has been linked to concussions and brain trauma sustained by players during their careers. CTE can be diagnosed only after death.

Buoniconti, 76, told Sports Illustrated in May that he has suffered dementia and other symptoms of CTE, including memory loss, depression and struggles to perform tasks such as knotting a necktie.

“I don’t do this for myself. I do it for the thousands of others who will follow me,” Buoniconti, 76, said Friday in making the announcement at the Boston University School of Medicine, which has led studies on CTE.

“My life, as I know it, has been taken away from me. I don't believe there are any miracles with this disease, but I am so proud to be with VA Secretary [David] Shulkin, Dr. [Ann] McKee and the BU CTE Center and Concussion Legacy Foundation team today, who are so dedicated to fighting the ravages of concussions and thousands of head impacts. I hope that my story and contribution will help thousands of others who are in this journey, or who will follow me.”

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, Buoniconti was a key member of the Dolphins’ two teams that won Super Bowls in the early 1970s, including the 1972 team that went 17-0. He played 14 years professionally, including his last seven with the Dolphins before retiring after the 1976 season.

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