July 23, 2018 05:05 PM
The Minnesota Vikings have confirmed offensive line coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly Sunday at home days before training camp begins. He was 56 years old.
Sparano joined the Vikings in 2016 as offensive line coach and has extensive coaching experience, including a previous job with Mike Zimmer, Vikings head coach. The two worked for Dallas head coach Bill Parcells from 2003 to 2008.
Zimmer said in a statement, "I love Tony Sparano. He was a great teacher, a grinder of a worker and had a toughness and fighting spirit that showed in our linemen. He was a great husband, father and grandfather and a great friend to me. This is just sinking in for us but Tony will be sorely missed by all."
Sparano was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and was interim head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2014.
KSTP sources confirmed the news shortly before the team's announcement Sunday afternoon. The Vikings issued the following statement:
With deep regret the Minnesota Vikings announce that Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano unexpectedly passed away early this morning.
“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony. Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Tony's presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.” - Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said, “I am at a loss for words with Tony’s sudden passing. Tony loved the game of football and his players. More importantly, he was a strong man of faith who treasured his family. My heart is with the Sparanos today. As an organization we will support them in whatever ways we can.”
Sparano's resume includes coaching stops with the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys.
Before moving to the National Football League, Sparano was a college coach, working at his alma mater, New Haven, a Division II school, and Boston University.
Sparano is survived by his wife, Jeanette, three children; sons, Tony and Andrew, his daughter, Ryan Leigh, and four grandchildren.
Really tough to see this, so much respect for this guy, great coach and great person! You will be missed by so many, thoughts and prayers to your family! RIP Coach https://t.co/cTFqtglDcD— Adam Thielen (@athielen19) July 22, 2018
Updated: July 23, 2018 05:05 PM
Created: July 22, 2018 11:40 AM
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