Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach and former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano has passed away, the Vikings announced on Sunday. He was 56 years old. Sparano was the offensive line coach for the Vikings for the last two seasons of his NFL career.
Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf expressed their condolences in a statement. "Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony," it reads. "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."
The Vikings noted that his death was unexpected, but did not state the cause. According to journalist Chris Mortensen, Sparanos was admitted to the hospital after complaining about chest pains over the weekend. He was released after doctors performed tests. Sparanos and his wife Jeannette were about to leave for church on Sunday when she found him unconscious in their kitchen. He couldn't be revived.
1/2 More details on tragic passing of Vikings’ OL coach Tony Sparano, via @mortreport. Sparano complained about chest pains this weekend and went to hospital Thursday. Doctors did tests, but released him Friday.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 22, 2018
2/2 Tony Sparano and his wife, Jeannette, were about to leave for church this morning when she found him unconscious in their kitchen. She tried CPR, but he could not be revived. He was 56.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 22, 2018
Sparano began his NFL coaching career in 1999. He was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2008-11. Highlights from his tenure include leading the team to a respectable 11-5 record in 2008 after only winning a single game the previous season, and using the off-kilter Wildcat formation. He later became the interim head coach for the Oakland Raiders.
Before Sparano's career with the NFL, he played collegiately at the University of New Haven and was a four-year letterman. In 1994, he was named New Haven head coach and held the position for five seasons.
Sparano was survived by his wife, three children, and four grandchildren.