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On Tuesday, my teammate, Nick Buoniconti, went public regarding his current health challenges in an article with Sports Illustrated online.  Subsequently, stories have been published on my running mate, Jim Kiick, as well.

I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men.  However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive problems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick.  Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal.

I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games.  In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury and had a great visit.   I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life.  We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects.   When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, “A Football Life,” I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details.  That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of.  When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man!  

As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida.  I’m glad he’s there.  He needs part-time care.  However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted.  At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues.  Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends.  What the future holds?  We don’t know.  

Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE.  After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing.  Each are dealing with different challenges.

#85 Nick Buoniconti

Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today.  Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price.  I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily.  However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron.  I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health.  I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future.

I believe football is a safer game now.  On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it!  I’ve always maintained (and sometimes with great controversy) kids shouldn’t play tackle football until junior high for a few reasons.  In many cases, they are not well coached and, more importantly, not properly equipped.  A child running around on a Pop Warner field with a sloppy helmet isn’t cute to me….it’s an outrage!  Also, recent research points to young brains being at the highest risk of lasting effects from trauma.  Young, developing brains cannot withstand that kind of hit without some repercussions sometime in their life (according to research I’ve read.)

Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris in Alaska during the filming of “A Football Life” with NFL Films

Jim and Nick are great friends of mine.  Even though we only occasionally see each other, I think of them and my other teammates often.  We shared a unique bond for an extraordinary period of time in our lives and still share in the historic success of our team.  I hope better times come for both of them and I look forward to another visit this fall.

#39 Larry Csonka #21 Jim Kiick in Super Bowl VIII


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Showing 9 comments
  • Jeff Taylor

    Mr zonk
    I have been a life long fan of you,kiick and merc.You three have been an inspiration to me from my childhood to now. I am 53 years old you guys are in my prayers all you. Thank you 72s for establishing fin greatness. Please give my best and heartfelt graditute to all my 72s.

  • David Pease

    Hello Larry,
    It’s been forty some odd years since we last spoke, but I’m hoping we can span that gap quickly. While my time with the Dolphin’s front office was brief, it did include the entirety of the ’72 season when I served as Joe Robbie’s assistant and the team’s traveling secretary. I still wear with pride the championship ring from that year and continue to gain inspiration from all the wonderful memories.
    I’ve attended a few reunions over the years, the most recent following Earl Morrall’s memorial service. In recent years I’ve been trying to raise awareness about how alcohol and concussions are on a collision course. Back in March of 2014, the Deputy Director of the NIH (National Institutes of Health) told me two things. First, that too much alcohol too soon could render the still developing adolescent brain more vulnerable to a concussion down the road, and secondly, that alcohol consumed after a concussive impact would prevent the brain from healing fully (per U.S. Army’s experience with roadside bombs and TBI’s in Iraq and Afghanistan). If you would send me your email address, we could begin to get re-acquainted and I’ll forward some recent Op/Ed pieces I’ve authored. I’m glad to hear you’re well.
    Best regards,
    David Pease 772-226-5119

  • Bruce moorhead

    Wish you guys the best, those were special times enjoying dolphins football with my dad. I’ll always cheer on the phins
    I worked over the years with so much of the dolphins through construction I feel connected my prayers go out to them


    How wonderful to have seen this. Thank you, Mr. Csonka for writing it. I was not aware of any of it even though I still live in Florida and follow the Dolphins.
    Additionally, I was always glad to have voted for the two of you for President and Vice President back in 1972. I considered writing you in again this year.
    Barbara Hartley

  • jerry hessen

    Hi CSONK,If I am not mistaken, the comment:

    “Csonka had the utmost respect of every
    player on the team, offense and defense.” Was actually spoken by a member of the defensive team. It was Hall of fame Middle Linebacker Nick B. #85 that actually made that statement. Not fellow hall of fame inductee, Jim Langer.


    Jerry Hessen

  • Agnes

    I appreciate, cause I found just what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

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  • Henry Bergfeld

    Larry, thought about you last night watching the game. Trust all is well with you.
    See Joe once in a while.
    Happy & Blessed Holiday’s.
    Stop over some time when your in town.
    always, Henry B.

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