Making a Difference
August 16, 2010 — While September marks the beginning of the
football season, it also brings a few football players to Yankees Magazine.
The September issue will feature a “Five minutes with”
article with Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, who anchored the Miami Dolphins
defense during their back-to-back championship campaigns of 1972 and 1973.
Buoniconti’s ’72 Dolphins defeated the New York Giants at the old Yankee
Stadium en route to the NFL’s only Perfect Season.
I had lunch with Buoniconti last week in Long Island, and the
former linebacker spoke about taking the field at Yankee Stadium.
“I went out to Monument Park as soon as I got to the Stadium,
and I will never forget that,” he said. “As a Yankees fan, it was
special to see Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio’s monuments and then play on the same
field they played on.”
Buoniconti also spoke at length about his son Marc who was paralyzed
in a college football game 25 years ago. In the wake of Marc’s injury, the
elder Buoniconti co-founded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which has since become the
leading research center for spinal cord injuries in the world. On Sept. 27, the Miami Project’s annual dinner will be held in New York City (Log on to http://www.miamiproject.miami.edu for more information).
“When Marc was injured, I tried to find out what kind of
research was being done for spinal cord injuries,” Buoniconti said.
“People were doing small things, but nothing major. When I heard that, I
became determined to do anything I could to help. Marc’s injury was the
catalyst for the Miami Project, and it has raised $185 million.”
Check out the September issue of Yankees Magazine to
learn more about the Buonicontis inspiring story.
And for those of you who follow this blog, I will share a story
that you won’t find in Yankees Magazine — because I could only fit so
much content on two pages.
Buoniconti, who is an attorney, represented several Yankees
players in the early 80’s, including Bucky Dent and Mickey Rivers. While on
that topic, Buoniconti shared a story with me about negotiating a contract with
“After the 1978 season, I was negotiating with the Yankees
for Bucky Dent, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with their GM. I told him that
Bucky and I were getting on a plane to go to California, where Bucky was going
to sign with the California Angels.
I told him that that although Bucky wanted to stay with
the Yankees, he was going to sign with the Angels.
Then I got a call from George’s office. He said, ‘Nick,
what are you doing with my boy? You’re not really going, you’re bluffing aren’t
you?’ I said ‘Yeah, I’m bluffing, George. It’s flight 1721, and it leaves at
George asked me to meet him for lunch at the Essex House.
When I sat down, he said, ‘You’re serious about this, aren’t you?’ And I said
‘Yeah, I’m very serious about this. Bucky’s going to be a California
So George said ‘You have the leverage in this deal, but
Bucky’s not going to California. I’m going to match their offer. He shook
my hand, and that was it. Then we talked about football over lunch.”
–Alfred Santasiere III