Nick Buoniconti was a cornerstone on a Patriots defense that was one of the better units in the AFL through the mid-1960s. Though he was undersized, he made up for it with his quickness and ferocity. These days, it's Jerod Mayo manning the linebacker position for the Patriots. Entering his second year, Mayo is expected to build upon what was a sensational rookie season.
Pro Football Hall of Fame: Bunoiconti's bio | NFLShop.com: Buy Mayo's AFL jersey
Then: Nick Buoniconti
Now: Jerod Mayo
Lou Witt / National Football League
Hall of Fame
LB Nick Buoniconti was a defensive leader on the only undefeated team in NFL history -- the 1972
, but long before that he was a six-time AFL all-star with the Boston
. As an undersized player out of Notre Dame, Buoniconti went undrafted by the NFL and wasn't taken until the 13th round of the AFL draft. He was named to the AFL All-Star team five times and was named to the
All-AFL first team
, picked by the
Pro Football Hall of Fame
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What are your memories of Buoniconti?
14 (8 with
Interception return yards:
Yards per INT return:
Jim Rogash / Getty Images
Mayo represents a changing of the guard in New England. Veterans such as Mike Vrabel, Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison,
and Ellis Hobbs have all departed in the last two seasons, while Mayo leads a young crop of defenders taking their place. The 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year was a tackling machine and helped the
win 11 games, despite the absence of injured star quarterback
for most of the season.
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How good is Mayo?