Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti has wept often in the six weeks since his son, playing linebacker for The Citadel, incurred a neck injury that has left the young man little chance of ever walking again.

"I think I am a big baby" for crying so much, said the man known for his toughness when he starred for the Dolphins in the 1970s and helped lead them to a 17-0 Super Bowl championship season in 1972.

But despite his son's ordeal, Buoniconti said his passion for football remains undiminished and he has vowed to channel his energies into a drive for increased research on spinal cord injuries. Football, he said in an interview with the Miami Herald, "educated me, took me through law school, provided for my family."

But on Oct. 26, Marc Buoniconti, a Citadel sophomore, broke his neck making a tackle against East Tennessee State in Johnson City, Tenn.

He is in Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, paralyzed from the shoulders down. He can speak only in a whisper with the help of device that blows air over his vocal cords. He can swallow but cannot breathe without a respirator.

On Dec. 16, the Dolphins' game against the New England Patriots will be dedicated to Marc Buoniconti and will be a fund-raiser for The Miami Project, the University of Miami's push to find a cure for spinal cord injuries . . .

Michael P. Mandarino, a lineman for the 1944-45 Philadelphia Eagles who became the NFL team's physician and one of the first surgeons to use plastics in repairing broken bones, died Saturday, at 64.

Before his playing career and between seasons, Dr. Mandarino, a Philadelphia native and La Salle graduate, interned at Hahnemann Medical College, graduated in 1945 and became Eagles' team physician from 1959 to 1962.