Awful news out of Minnesota, where current Vikings offensive line coach and former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly this morning at age 56.
Media reports surfaced midday Sunday, and the Vikings confirmed them here:
Statement from Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf on the sudden passing of Tony Sparano. pic.twitter.com/uMgcw1m0en
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) July 22, 2018
Sparano died just days before the Vikings are scheduled to begin training camp.
KTSP TV in Minneapolis reported first that Sparano, who’s been Minnesota’s offensive line coach since 2016, died at his home and was found by his wife Jeannette.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported later Sunday afternoon that Sparano had gone to the hospital Thursday in Minnesota complaining of chest pains. He was however released on Friday. The network’s Adam Schefter also reported that the Sparano’s were preparing to got to Church Sunday morning, when his wife found him unresponsive in the kitchen. She attempted CPR, but he never regained consciousness.
Sparano was the Dolphins head coach from 2008-2011. In his first season, he led the Dolphins to an 11-5 regular season, the AFC East title and the Fins first playoff berth in seven seasons. Unfortunately, he never had another winning season going 7-9 the next two years.
Then, after new owner Stephen Ross had tried very famously, but failed, to lure Jim Harbaugh from Stanford in the 2011 off season, Sparano was fired with a 4-9 record and three games remaining in the year.
Sparano then joined the Oakland Raiders as an assistant head coach/offensive line in 2013. Then, when the Raiders fired coach Dennis Allen after an 0-4 start, Sparano took over (above), as the interim coach and the Raiders went 3-9.
He coached the 2015 season as a tight ends coach with the 49ers before going to Minnesota.
Former Dolphins WR Brian Hartline, who was part of 2008 playoff team, reacted on Twitter Sunday afternoon:
— Brian Hartline (@brianhartline) July 22, 2018
The Dolphins officially sent their condolences on social media a short time later on Sunday:
Stephen Ross on the passing of Tony Sparano. pic.twitter.com/0AypInN4Ne
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) July 22, 2018
Sparano is survived not only by has wife but his three grown children.
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