Tony Sparano

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Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano dead at 56

Team says Sparano died this morning at his home

July 22, 2018 - 12:24 pm
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Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died Sunday morning at his home.  

A cause of death was not given by Vikings officials.

The 56-year-old Sparano first joined the Vikings in 2016.  Before that he was head coach of the Miami Dolphins for four seasons and acted as Oakland Raiders interim coach in 2014.  

He was the Dolphins' head coach from 2008-11 and went 29-32. He went 11-5 and won the AFC East in his first season with the Dolphins.

“I am at a loss for words with Tony’s sudden passing," said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman in a statement. "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, born Oct. 7, 1961, also spent time with the Jets, Browns, Redskins, Jaguars, Cowboys and 49ers, working alongside current Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer in Dallas on the staff of Bill Parcells.  

"I love Tony Sparano," said Zimmer in a statement. "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."

He played college football at the University of New Haven where he was a four-year letterman. Sparano was hired as New Haven's head coach in 1994 and held that position for five seasons.

Word on Sparano's death comes less than a week before the Vikings start training camp.

Tony is survived by his wife, Jeanette, his two sons; Tony and Andrew, his daughter, Ryan Leigh, and four grandchildren.

Players and others in the NFL community are reacting to hearing about Sparano's death.

Vikings offensive lineman Mike Remmers: 

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph:

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins:

Arizona State assistant coach and former NFL offensive lineman Kevin Mawae:

Bob Lange, San Francisco 49ers spokesman: