The annual Buoniconti Fund New York City dinner to raise money for the Miami Project, which was held last week, has raised over $500 million since its inception in 1985. The Miami Project in South Florida is the leading research facility in finding a cure for paralysis.
The organization started when Citadel linebacker Marc Buoniconti was paralyzed making a tackle in the game. Marc’s dad, Hall of Fame Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti, made it his life’s mission to find a cure for anyone whose life could change in a split second because of an accident.
Marc Buoniconti has just written an autobiography titled “Undefeated” (Post Hill Press). He writes that no one under age 18 should be allowed to play tackle football. I asked him at the dinner if he was worried that his book would not be received well in Texas where high school football is a religion, he did not back down. “Given what we know now about both paralysis and concussions, you can be sure that a lot of lawsuits from former players will be filed against school districts in Texas and other places where high school football is played.”
Former Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Oritz was an honoree at the 2017 Buoniconti Fund Dinner. I asked him if he is in touch with actor Kenan Thompson who does a spot-on impression of him during occasional “Weekend Update” segments on “Saturday Night Live.” Oritz flashed his trademark smile and replied “Kenan is my man. We text all of the time!” He added that he thinks more people know who he is from Thompson’s caricature of him than from his 20 seasons in the majors. Oritz added that he hopes to make an appearance on “SNL” this year.
Giants offensive tackle Justin Pugh doubled as a pitchman for the newest men’s grooming products from Conair Men last Tuesday night at a media launch in the East Village. Pugh has one of the best-maintained beards in sports so he certainly was a smart choice on Conair’s part to be a celebrity endorser.
Justin Pugh’s appearance for Conair came two days after the Giants were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24 in a heartbreaking last-second defeat at Lincoln Financial Field. “I’ve never been in a game where my team lost on a 61-yard field goal!” Pugh said philosophically.
Ironically Justin grew up a big Eagles fan in the northeast Philadelphia suburb of Holland located in Bucks County. I asked him if that has caused any issues over the years. “My family are all now Giants fans but my friends are still big Eagles fans and they get on me!” he said with a laugh.
Last year Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks signed Portland Trailblazers guard/forward Allen Crabbe to a lucrative contract when he became a restricted free agent last summer. The Blazers matched the Nets’ offer and Crabbe remained in Portland.
Marks didn’t give up and last June the Blazers traded Crabbe to the Nets in order to reduce their payroll. At last Monday’s Nets media day, Crabbe was thrilled with Marks’ pursuit of him. “It’s great to be wanted!” he laughed.
Crabbe will welcome the relative anonymity of playing in this market. “In Portland, I couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized. My teammates and I were treated like rock stars.” I told him that he could probably take the subway and it would be doubtful that anyone would know who he is and that he’d still be left alone if they did.
The death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner at age 91 last week brought out a lot of the old tropes about how men bought it for the articles. While that line always generated a few guffaws, the reality is that Playboy did have well-written articles and that extended to sports where Anson Mount’s college football and NFL previews were always anticipated. Mount’s son, also named Anson, is the lead actor in ABC’s new action series, “Marvel’s Inhumans.” RIP, Hef.
If you are looking for a healthy and still fun-to-eat snack, check out Superfood Veggie Cakes from Jamaica-based Garden Lites. The cakes contain some combination of kale, quinoa, and cauliflower, and have less than 100 calories. Garden Lites also has different lines of muffins.