It’s officially training camp season, but the NFL world received some sad news on Sunday. Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away over night at the age of 56.
Cowboys fans knew Tony Sparano as one of Bill Parcells’ disciples in Dallas. He worked with the tight ends and offensive line through his time, which also overlapped into the Wade Phillips era, and was a part of the 2007 team that went 13-3.
Sparano’s success in 2007 helped catapult him to a head coach opportunity with the Miami Dolphins. He had bounced around the NFL since then before reuniting with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota before the 2016 season.
The Vikings released an official statement on Sparano’s death. It was unexpected and came at a time when the season is just beginning for Minnesota.
With deep regret the Minnesota Vikings announce that Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano unexpectedly passed away early this morning.
“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. 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.” - Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf
Sparano began his NFL coaching career in 1999 with stints as a head coach with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Tony served as the Vikings offensive line coach since 2016. Tony played collegiately at the University of New Haven where he was a four-year letterman. Sparano was named New Haven’s head coach in 1994 and held the position for five seasons.
Tony is survived by his wife, Jeanette, his two sons; Tony and Andrew, his daughter, Ryan Leigh, and four grandchildren. Sparano was born October 7, 1961. He was 56 years old.
The Sparano family requests privacy at this time. The Vikings will provide further updates when appropriate.
Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with the Sparano family.