Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly on Sunday at the age of 56.
The announcement of Sparano’s death came from the Vikings in a 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
Sparano began his NFL coaching career in 1999 with stints as a head coach with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Tony served as the Vikings offensive line coach since 2016. Tony played collegiately at the University of New Haven where he was a four-year letterman. Sparano was named New Haven’s head coach in 1994 and held the position for five seasons.
Tony is survived by his wife, Jeanette, his two sons; Tony and Andrew, his daughter, Ryan Leigh, and four grandchildren. Sparano was born October 7, 1961. He was 56 years old.
ESPN reported that Sparano had complained about chest pains and went to the hospital Thursday, and after undergoing tests he was released Friday. Just two days later, on Sunday morning, Sparano’s wife found him unconscious in their kitchen as they were preparing to leave for church. She tried CPR, but was unable to revive him.
Reaction immediately started to come in on social media from many of the NFL players who knew Sparano or played for him.
Devastated to hear the news about Coach Sparano passing. Praying for his family through this tough time.
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) July 22, 2018
— Kyle Rudolph (@KyleRudolph82) July 22, 2018
You will truly be missed by your loved ones, the guys you coached and the ones you’ve impacted over the years coach Sparano. Calm, cool and always wearing your shades no matter how dark the room was. Thank you for caring about the us as individuals and not just athletes 🙏🏾.
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) July 22, 2018
I’m still In shock about the passing of Tony Sparano! He was a players coach everybody loved him, he gave me a chance to come to Miami and show that I could be an every down running back when not many people believed in me! He will be missed but not forgotten! Love you coach RIP
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) July 22, 2018
Sporano Family I am so sorry for your loss. Coach believed in me, trusted me, and stuck with me as a rookie. He would check on my family every HC and QB meeting we would have! He was a great man! I love you coach!
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) July 22, 2018
We lost a great man today in our football family. I was only around coach Tony Sparano for a year. But left a lasting impact on my life. Football meant a lot to him but family was everything. My prayers go out to his family. 😢
— Maurice Jones-Drew (@MJD) July 22, 2018
— Brian Hartline (@brianhartline) July 22, 2018
— Jake Long (@JakeLong77) July 22, 2018
Sparano is survived by his wife, Jeanette; his two sons, Tony and Andrew; his daughter, Ryan Leigh; and four grandchildren.
Join us in praying for the Sparano family during this difficult time.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” — Psalm 34:18