Vikings Offensive Line Coach Dies Suddenly
Just days before the Minnesota Vikings training camp was due to begin at their new facility in Eagan, Tony Sparano the offensive line coach died unexpectedly Sunday He was 56 years old.
He became a coach with the Vikings in 2016. He had previously worked with Head Coach Mike Zimmer when they worked for Bill Parcells in 2003-2008. He was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011 and was head coach for the Raiders in 2014.
In a statement to the media Coach Zimmer said, "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."
Update: Apparently Sparano was complaining of chest pains on Thursday. He was realeased on Friday. His wife found him unconscious on Sunday morning as they were preparing to leave for church. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Here was the statement issued by the Vikings Organization:
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.
Sparano is survived by his wife, Jeanette, three children; sons, Tony and Andrew, his daughter, Ryan Leigh, and four grandchildren.