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NFL Great Nick Buoniconti Donates Brain To Head Injury Research

BOSTON (CBS SF) -- Once one of the most feared players on the NFL gridiron, Nick Buoniconti says the deterioration of his brain has left him less than "half the man I used to be."

Buoniconti, the Pro Football Hall of Fame middle linebacker and former Boston Patriot and Miami Dolphin, has pledged his brain after his death to research on concussions.

He signed the pledge at a press conference at Boston University School of Medicine Friday that he pledges his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to be studied at Boston University and VA Boston Healthcare researchers upon his death.

"I don't do this for myself," he said with tears in his eyes. "I do it for the thousands of others who will follow me."

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells.

Buoniconti was a member of the Miami Dolphins' 1972 Superbowl Championship team.

The 76-year old former linebacker told Sports Illustrated earlier this years that he's struggling with neurological and cognitive problems and sometimes feels "lost" or "like a child".

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