The NFL was dealt a major blow with news that long-time coach Tony Sparano had passed away at the age of 56 early Sunday morning.
In the league since 1999, Sparano coached for nine different teams and had a long lasting impact on a plethora of players during his time. His career included stints at the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders head coach.
Having joined the team in 2016, Sparano was the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line coach at the time of his death.
Needless to say, his passing hit the Vikings incredibly hard as they prepare for the 2018 season.
“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,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said, via the team’s official website. “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.”
No death is easy. But the seemingly sudden nature of Sparano’s passing will be felt throughout pretty much the entire league. Having coached for nearly one-third of the league’s teams, Sparano is a widely respected mind around the NFL.
Sparano is survived by his wife, Jeanette, three children and four grandchildren. Obviously, this is about much more than just football. It’s about a man with a family that left this life way too early.
Our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by this tragic situation.