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Minnesota Vikings Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano Suddenly Dead At 56 Years Old

By John Carlo A. Villaruel
on Jul 23, 2018 07:47 AM EDT
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The Minnesota Vikings suffered a major setback after offensive line coach and long-time NFL mentor Tony Sparano passed away on Sunday morning.

Sparano who joined the Vikings in 2016 was found unconscious by his wife in the family kitchen. It can be brought to mind that Sparano went to the hospital on Thursday after suffering chest pains but he was immediately released on Friday after numerous tests. He was 56.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer sent his condolences to the family of Sparano whom he cited as someone who is a great friend. Sparano started his NFL coaching career in 1999. He became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and the Oakland Raiders in 2014.

"I love Tony Sparano. He was a great teacher, a grinder of a worker and had a toughness and fighting spirit that showed in our linemen. He was a great husband, father and grandfather and a great friend to me. This is just sinking in for us but Tony will be sorely missed by all," Zimmer said in a statement.

Great Coaching Career

During his stint with the Dolphins, Sparano steered the team into a first-place finish in the AFC East after leading Miami into an 11-5 win-loss season in 2008. Prior to the 2008 season, the Dolphins finished last season with a terrible 1-15 card. Sparano also became the first head coach in the checkered history of the league to lead a team to the playoffs after a one-win season.

Sparano finished with a 29-32 record in his tenure as a head coach of the Dolphins. He served as the interim mentor for the Raiders in 2014 after the team parted ways with Dennis Allen. Sparano finished the season with a 3-9 slate.

Besides the Dolphins, Raiders, Vikings, and the Cleveland Browns, Sparano also mentored the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, and the New York Jets. Aside from coaching, Sparano played college ball for the University of New Haven from 1978 to 1981.

Sparano rose to prominence during the 1979 season after leading his team to achieve its first undefeated season. He is a member of the New Haven Football Hall of Fame.

The former Dolphins mentor became the offensive line coach for his Alma Mater from 1984 to 1987. He also worked as an O-line coach for Boston University before becoming an offensive coordinator. Sparano made his return to New Haven in 1994 as the team's head coach to lead the squad into a remarkable 41-14 record over five seasons.

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