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Breaking: Former Dolphins Nick Buoniconti speaks out about brain disorder

Ari Russell

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According to an in depth report that will come out this week in Sports Illustrated, former Miami Dolphins LB Nick Buoniconti has been suffering from what appears to be a brain disorder. According to the story, Buoniconti has fallen multiple times, has memory loss and even has hard a time doing simple tasks such as putting on a shirt over the past four years.

Though he hasn’t officially been diagnosed with CTE, signs are really starting to point to that being the case. He’s also not the only member of the 1972 Miami Dolphins undefeated team that has had some brain issues. RB Jim Kiick, who had terrible living conditions before being moved to an assisted-living facility has been suffering from early onset Alzheimers. Back up QB Earl Morrell died in 2014 had one of the most advanced stages of CTE. Bill Stanfill who died in 2016 had been diagnosed with Dementia at the age of 69.

The Miami Herald has more:

Former Dolphins defensive lineman Manny Fernandez said last year that four members of 1972 Dolphins had cognitive issues but understandably declined to identify them. Former star safety Dick Anderson said two of those four require assistance, though Anderson and Fernandez note it’s impossible to know whether those four have CTE, Alzheimer’s Disease or advanced dementia.

Fernandez relayed a story from 2015 of when he left his home north of Albany, Georgia., to drive to South Florida for a funeral. Two and half hours later, he realized he had left his suit and garment bag at home.

For the full article click here.

Nick Buoniconti is a figure known even outside of 1970s football as he spent over two decades on the weekly cable show “Inside the NFL” alongside NFL Hall of Famer Len Dawson. Buoniconti is speaking out about his condition to raise awareness of the brain issues a lot of former players are seeming to get later in life. The fact that so many high profile members of the iconic 1972 Miami Dolphins team, the last to go unscathed en-route to winning the Super Bowl, are suffering physically may open more eyes to the effects football has on the human brain. It also speaks to the need for the NFL to come up with a more concrete policy in regards to dealing with the health of the former players.

Brain injuries have been a touchy subject for the league. However, the raising of awareness by former players such as Nick Buoniconti ought to push the conversation into a more reasonable arena. It should open up the eyes of the current NFLPA in how they negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement, to potentially include long term care for those who played in the league and suffer major effects from the injuries they sustained while playing. Either way this is going to be a tough story to digest once Sports Illustrated releases it, considering how beloved Nick Buoniconti is in the South Florida community.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.

And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.

First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.

That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.

As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.

Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,

“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”

“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”

Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.

As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,

 “He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”

Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.

Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.

And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.

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Miami Dolphins

’85 Dolphins were part of dubious AFC playoff history

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are looking to make NFL playoff history and join four other teams as the only ones to ever win three straight road games and make a Super Bowl. That’s when they take on the Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.

And, longtime Dolphins fans will remember that they were on the wrong end of one of those teams who pulled it off for the first time in NFL playoff history 34 years ago.

That’s when a Raymond Berry coached New England Patriots team behind Tony Eason at quarterback and an opportunistic defense stunned the seemingly invincible passing attack of second-year quarterback Dan Marino and Don Shula’s Dolphins in a shocking 31 – 14 upset at the Orange Bowl.

To set the scene, New England had already upset the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wildcard game and then, gone out to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated the Raiders, who were the number one in AFC seed, 27 – 20.

The Dolphins, who were the AFC Champs the previous year behind Marino’s record-setting passing season of 1984, had struggled just to make the Championship Game a year later.

That’s because the Cleveland Browns actually led Miami the previous week 21 – 3 in the third quarter before Marino and the offense kicked it into gear for 21 unanswered points and a comeback 24 – 21 win.

However, on this day, they made simply too many mistakes and New England made them pay, including grinding the clock with over 40 minutes of possession to shorten the game.

Patriots ran for over 250 yards on the withering Dolphins defense and Miami had six turnovers in all including two critical Marino interceptions in the defeat.

New England surprisingly led 17 – 7 at the half, when Miami’s rookie kick returner and former Gator Lorenzo Hampton fumbled, while being tackled. A few plays later New England scored on a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Eason to Robert Weathers with a stunned Orange Bowl looking at a scoreboard that read 24 – 7, Pats.

Marino led the Dolphins down the field and looked like he was going to get them quickly in the end zone and right back in the game. However, he threw a critical bad pass that was picked off by Fred Marion at the New England goal line to keep the Dolphins off the board.

New England worked another four minutes off the clock before missing a few goal, but most of the damage had been done with most of the third period was erased with the Dolphins down by 17.

The Patriots Mosi Tatupu iced the game with a 1 yard  touchdown midway through the final period and New England was on its way to a Super Bowl matchup with the Chicago Bears.

As you probably know by now, the ’85 Bears with their devastating “46 Defense,” Hall of Famer Walter Payton and brash quarterback Jim McMahon destroyed New England in the Super Bowl two weeks later.

Still, 1985 version the Patriots will always be remembered as a team that was able to pull off three straight wins away from home, including the shocker that ended Miami’s bid to capture the World Championship.

If you are wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers have also all since done this “road trifecta” in the NFL Playoffs. However, in all three of their cases, they finished what the Patriots could not, by also winning the Super Bowl.

The most recent was the Packers and their 2011 postseason run that saw them defeat the Steelers to win the title.

So, on Sunday, it’s former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense’s turn to try to match what four others have done before them.

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