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REFLECTIONS: Nick Buoniconti '62

Former Notre Dame Alum (Class of 1962), All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Nick Buoniconti passed away recently. Some of his former teammates shared a few thoughts about the former captain and two-time Super Bowl Champion …

“We were playing at Pittsburgh and most of the guys on the first unit had already played around 50 minutes. Towards the end of the game, we huddled up and we were totally exhausted. It was third-and-10 and I told Nick he had to do something because I can’t guard my guy anymore because my legs were so tired. He said he’d take care of it. He called his own stunt, went in and grabbed the quarterback and we won the game. He was very aggressive, had a lot of common sense and he listened to his teammates …

… He encouraged his teammates about how well they can play. He gave us more confidence and he was a real team leader. He was so good to the teammates who didn’t play a lot, like the squad that used to get us ready to play our opponent. He talked to everybody and he encouraged everybody, even though they weren’t starters, but they were part of the team. That’s what made him special …

… We’d have a golf outing down in Florida around Easter. Nick always showed up and not only did he spend time with the former players, but with all the Notre Dame graduates. He talked with everybody, shook hands with everybody and signed autographs. He was a man’s man not only in football, but he was a man’s man in society. He took care of people and he never forgot the people he went to school with. He’s going to be sorely missed by a lot of people …

… Away from the field, you’d never know that he was a linebacker. He was gentle as a cat and was just one of the boys. He would never boast about how well he played. He was a complete team person.”

— Angelo Dabiero ‘62


“Nick Buoniconti was a great football player. A lot is said and written about his small size, but he had a big heart. He was a competitor on the field. He also was a class act and very successful businessman. He will be greatly missed.”

— Myron Pottios ‘61

“During the middle of my senior season I got a chance to play with the first string and did so for the rest of the year. This is where Nick Buoniconti became very, very important in my life. When they put me in at center, next to Nick and Myron Pottios, Nick became extremely supportive. He needed me to play well, which allowed him to play well. He was a hell of a guy in supporting me and doing everything he could to help me do a good job. He was a super good friend. Nick kept telling (head coach) Joe Kuharich to leave me in, which I remember vividly. Nick was my best supporter with Coach Kuharich. I think it was the main reason I stayed there the rest of the season. I never forgot that.”

— John Linehan ‘61

“Many people are unaware of some of the Notre Dame history on Nick Buoniconti. While most remember his pro career as a Linebacker. Nick actually played both as an undersized offensive guard and a down lineman. As a two-way player he was an excellent player but never received the notoriety as a linebacker. Coaches failed to recognize or accept his real strengths. One of the Coaches said Nick would “go through a wall but it would be a small hole”. Nick carried this as motivation the rest of his career.

When he was positioned as a linebacker his talent was undeniable. Draft status and All-Pro recognition did not come until later in his career . He would have been one of the best Linebackers to play in college his last 2 years. Nick received the recognition he truly deserved after he was named a Pro Football Hall of Famer. While undersized both as a pro and college player he had the largest heart and greatest motivation.”

— Ed Hoerster ’62