HBO Sports, which has produced Emmy®-winning biographies of pro football greats Vince Lombardi and Joe Namath, will present THE MANY LIVES OF NICK BUONICONTI, telling the remarkable tale of the 77-year old NFL Hall of Famer, whose story encompasses turns as a linebacker, lawyer, sports agent, broadcaster, executive and philanthropist. The feature-length documentary debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 12 (10:00-11:15 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
The film will also be available on HBO on Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.
“Nick Buoniconti has lived an extraordinary life,” says Rick Bernstein, executive producer, HBO Sports. “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 son of a baker from the south end of Springfield, Mass., Nick Buoniconti’s early inner drive propelled him to a football scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in 1958, where he became a captain and All-American. Though considered undersized for the pros, he defied the odds and became a star defensive player in the AFL with the Boston Patriots, and later, with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. As the starting middle linebacker under legendary coach Don Shula, Buoniconti anchored the Dolphins’ famed “No Name Defense” as the team reached Super Bowl glory and recorded the only perfect season in NFL history in 1972.
Having earned a law degree at night while playing football, Buoniconti quickly made the transition to a successful attorney and sports agent after retiring from the NFL in 1976. In 1979, he also became a TV star when he started co-hosting HBO’s “Inside the NFL” with Len Dawson, a job he’d hold for more than two decades.
In fall 1985, life changed suddenly and tragically when his youngest son, Marc, was paralyzed from the neck down while playing football at The Citadel. As he grieved deeply, Nick made a vow: He wouldn’t rest until his son walked again. Within months, he co-founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which would become a world-renowned spinal cord and brain research center.
In 2001, Buoniconti entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with Marc introducing him from his wheelchair. For both men, it was one of the proudest moments of their lives. The induction came as the Miami Project and its fundraising arm, the Buoniconti Fund, continued to have unprecedented growth. Today, thanks in large part to Nick Buoniconti’s singular devotion, more than a half-billion dollars has been raised for spinal cord research.
But in his early 70s, Nick’s own health began to deteriorate. Today, he’s nearly immobile and suffers from severe neurological problems that include warning signs of CTE. Despite his condition, his sense of determination remains as strong as ever. With his wife, Buoniconti has established a research fund and agreed to donate his brain for study upon his death.
This film will intimately capture Nick Buoniconti, taking viewers through every step of his journey.
THE MANY LIVES OF NICK BUONICONTI is executive produced by Peter Nelson and Rick Bernstein; directed by Bentley Weiner; producer, Abtin Motia; writer, Aaron Cohen; editor, James Pilott. Liev Schreiber narrates.