Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano has died unexpectedly at the age of 56, the team announced Sunday afternoon.
“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,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement.
Sparano had complained about chest pains and went to the hospital Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Sparano underwent tests and was released Friday. The source said Sparano’s wife found him unconscious Sunday morning as they prepared to leave for church but could not revive him.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
Sparano served as an assistant with Minnesota for the past two seasons. He worked for nine NFL teams over 19 seasons, with head-coaching stints in Miami (2008-11) and on an interim basis with Oakland (2014). He held positions with Cleveland, Washington, Jacksonville, Dallas, San Francisco and the New York Jets.
Sparano was 32-41 as a head coach. In 2008, his first season at the helm in Miami, he took the Dolphins to his only playoff appearance. The Dolphins won the AFC East with an 11-5 record that season, the only time in the past 15 seasons that the division wasn’t won by the New England Patriots. Sparano became the first coach in NFL history to take a team to the playoffs the year after a one-win season.
“Tony made an indelible impact on our team’s history and his toughness, grit and leadership were evident to everyone who had the chance to coach with or play for him. On behalf of the entire Dolphins organization, we extend our most heartfelt condolences to his wife Jeanette and the entire Sparano family,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement.
Sparano’s no-nonsense, gruff exterior was synonymous with the signature sunglasses he wore at all times. He wore the sunglasses, even in low lighting, because of a hot oil accident he sustained while working at a fast food restaurant at age 17 in his native Connecticut.nfl nike jerseys cheap china
“You can see there’s still a scar on my face,” Sparano told the Star Tribune in 2016. “I had a patch over my left eye for 22 days, a patch over my right eye for 14. The left eye never did get right. The cornea is burnt and sun-sensitive, light-sensitive.