Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano dies at 56

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Tony Sparano, the Vikings’ offensive line coach and former head coach of the Dolphins and Raiders, has died at the age of 56.

The Vikings announced Sparano’s death on Sunday afternoon. KSTP reports that Sparano died this morning at his home.

“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “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.”

Sparano grew up in Connecticut, played college football at the University of New Haven and then began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater in 1984. He later became the head coach at New Haven in 1994 and stayed there five seasons, including taking the team to the NCAA Division II championship game in 1997.

From there Sparano became an assistant coach in Cleveland, then Washington, Jacksonville and Dallas. He was hired by his longtime friend and boss Bill Parcells to be the Dolphins’ head coach in 2008. In his first season as a head coach, Sparano engineered an incredible turnaround, taking over a Dolphins team that had gone 1-15 the year before and going to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. However, Sparano never again had a winning record in three more seasons with the Dolphins and one partial season as interim head coach of the Raiders.

He is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

78 responses to “Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano dies at 56

  1. RIP Tony. As a Vikings fan, I was really excited to see our weakest unit progress with your coaching. Going to have to dedicate this season to him.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this. He was always entertaining to watch in the sidelines, and he really knew the game. He always seemed to have an aura of “coolness” about him: I think he’ll be missed by the entire NFL community…

  3. Man, I remember like it was yesterday when he was coaching the Dolphins and they introduced the wildcat. Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

  4. Who thumbs down these comments? I bet you are a sad, sad, and lonely shell of a human being who would never dare do something like this except behind your keyboard. You are pathetic.

  5. That’s shocking I didn’t even know he had any serious health issues. Condolences Vikings nation.

    At 59 years old this hits close to home whenever someone in my age group passes. Treasure your time as you never know when the clock runs out.

  6. I could care less which team he coached for – 56 is way too young, and by all accounts, his players and other coaches swore by him. My thoughts are with his family and friends and the entire Vikings organization.

  7. Awful news. Thoughts and prayers to his family from this Pat’s fan. I’ll never forget when he brought his hated underdog Phish into Foxboro and unleashed the Wildcat on the genius and his Pats, who never had an answer and were soundly beaten by Tony’s squad.

  8. Far too young to go. RIP to Tony, and many thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. He impacted many NFL players and teams over the years.

  9. Wow. This is truly sad and shocking. Even though he didn’t have all that much success in Miami, I really admired his honesty and attitude as the fins HC. Always seemed like a genuinely good guy. Condolences to his family.

  10. What the …?? passionate guy, great coach, and he’s going to be missed! Prayers to the family. Let’s put a TS on the uniforms and dedicate this season to a great guy. Palms to the sky!

  11. That is a very young age….what a tragedy. It’s a going to be a tough time for his family and friends and I wish them well.

  12. That’s horrible. Absolutely terrible. Way too young. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  13. Wow, this hit hard. When he was the coach of the Dolphins I really liked his style, and when he became the interim head coach of the Raiders, I was ecstatic. You can tell he genuinely cared for everyone around him, especially his players and they played balls to the wall for him even though the season was already lost. RIP Coach.

  14. How pathetic do you have to be to thumbs down someone offering their condolences and saying rest in peace. Losers.

  15. This is horrible — so sad. A tragic loss for the family and his community.

    🙁
    🙁
    🙁

  16. Wow. Did not expect to pull up this site and see this today.

    Gotta admit-I made fun of his fist pumping field goals back in the day, but I never heard anyone say anything bad about him as a man.

    RIP Coach. 56 is pretty young so gotta admit I did a bit of a gulp when I saw the headline and age.

  17. Unreal, and what a complete shock. Just last week he was talking about how excited he was to get going with the OL.

    RIP Coach.

  18. RIP Coach.

    My deepest condolences to the Sparano family.

    To everybody: Tell your loved ones how you feel, friends and family, everyday.

    Tomorrow is not promised, enjoy the moment, stay present.

    Let’s all effort to be better to each other, everyday.

    We have one spin on this Earth, and like it or not, right now, we’re all in this together.

    Be well everyone, enjoy your Sunday and don’t forget to breathe and enjoy the ride.

  19. We lived in Miami during his years coaching the Fins….good man…this is shocking.
    R.I.P.

  20. Reading the great comments of sympathy and compassion, why is it there are always down votes on these points….it makes you wonder.

  21. Very, very, very sorry to see this. Obviously an excellent position coach who is very popular around the league; his work with what was previously a terrible OL in Minnesota will not be soon forgotten. RIP, coach.

  22. wisbadgfan says:
    July 22, 2018 at 2:40 pm
    Reading the great comments of sympathy and compassion, why is it there are always down votes on these points….it makes you wonder.
    ————–
    Why wonder. There are plenty of belly buttons and opinions out there, if you get my meaning.

  23. Why is anyone giving these positive posts thumbs down? These people are piece of crap losers who should get therapy because they really suck at life.

    As a Vikings fan it was great to see you bolster and teach the weakest part of our team. You will be missed and condolences to all of your family.

  24. Showed more class than we did when our new owner embarrassed himself trying to lure Jim Harburgh to the Dolphins while Tony Sparano was still coach. I would like to think and hope Steven Ross privately made amends some how. But this is a shocker. God bless the Sparanos your man was a class individual. Very very sorry.

  25. I can’t believe people are giving Tony’s passing a thumbs down. No wonder there are people who are such a mess today. Just shows you when they behave like that.

  26. I’m guessing he had a blockage(s) of a major artery of the heart. This message goes out to all you men out there 35 and older…get a nuclear stress test. Even if your doctor or cardiologist say its not necessary. It’s expensive but worth it…so many men are dropping these days due to blockages. It’s due to bad diets, lack of exercises, our employers asking us to work longer hours, lack of quality sleep, etc… Get the nuclear stress test done…you’ll thank me. BTW, I’m a survivor of two heart attacks…I have multiple stents.

  27. annes22 says:
    July 22, 2018 at 3:34 pm
    I can’t believe people are giving Tony’s passing a thumbs down. No wonder there are people who are such a mess today. Just shows you when they behave like that.

    ————-

    Sadly there are many people who live their lives angry and unhappy.

  28. I wonder if he has a disease/cancer in his eyes. I recall hearing during the 2011 MNF opener against my patriots he always wears glasses from an unfeltjnate incident when he was a kid in New Haven CT that left him extremely sensitive to light

  29. What a shocking and sad story. My heart breaks for the Soprano family. I came on this article to read about how he could have passed away so young. I noticed there’s many people who actually go out of their way to give a thumbs down to these thoughtful comments. Wow. That makes my heart hurt for this world that their are people like that in it. Pray those people find their way. Too much hate in this world.

  30. Packer fan ….. Football fan here. My heart goes out to his family, friends and even Viking fans. He was a good coach that always seemed to get the most of his players. Once in awhile our rivalry needs to be put aside for a day, this is one of those days. Rest in peace Coach.

  31. nhpats says:
    July 22, 2018 at 4:22 pm
    annes22 says:
    July 22, 2018 at 3:34 pm
    I can’t believe people are giving Tony’s passing a thumbs down. No wonder there are people who are such a mess today. Just shows you when they behave like that.

    ————-

    Sadly there are many people who live their lives angry and unhappy.

    8 3

    Yea those people are called DEMOCRATS!!!

  32. RIP Coach Sparano, sympathies to his family. In a league full of phonies he was the real deal.

  33. Very sad. The accolades coming in from all over the NFL suggest what a good coach and good person he was. RIP, Coach.

  34. Should have been a lifer with the Cowboys but the back stabbing garrett had someting to say about that

  35. The trolls on this site hilariously pathetic.

    The players, coaches & support staff work to support their families,and for the most part are good folks.

    Heartfelt condolences to his family.

  36. Loved his passion. Seemed like a guy who really loved what he did and put everything into it. Condolences to his family.

  37. Times like these make you realize football is just a game and life is more important. Prayers to Tony’ wife, kids and grandkids.

  38. thegreatgabbert says:
    July 22, 2018 at 1:40 pm
    I take back all the bad jokes I made about Tony.
    ++++
    You wrote this. Then this:

    thegreatgabbert says:
    July 22, 2018 at 1:43 pm
    Tony Sparano never got a chance to eat Paisano’s Pizza at FedEx Field.
    +++++
    Anonymity breeds trash. Every fan base has them. The problem with humans is, they’re human.

    You wouldn’t say this if it was your parents.

  39. Yeah, the thumbs down are disgraceful. If you thumbs down my post please explain why. I can’t understand that kind of behavior.

  40. God be with you, Tony Sparano, as He was with you when you engineered that amazing Dolphins division title in 2008 (getting Pennington was just another example of God working in mysterious ways.) And blessings to his family as well.

  41. speakadatrut says:
    July 22, 2018 at 3:41 pm
    I’m guessing he had a blockage(s) of a major artery of the heart. This message goes out to all you men out there 35 and older…get a nuclear stress test. Even if your doctor or cardiologist say its not necessary. It’s expensive but worth it…so many men are dropping these days due to blockages. It’s due to bad diets, lack of exercises, our employers asking us to work longer hours, lack of quality sleep, etc… Get the nuclear stress test done…you’ll thank me. BTW, I’m a survivor of two heart attacks…I have multiple stents.
    —————————————————————————————–
    I agree with your advice to get a quality assessment of health, but also urge those with bad diets and those not regularly exercising to rethink those life choices.

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