Current Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach and former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano died early Sunday morning. He was just 53-years-old.
The Vikings sent out the following on Sunday afternoon.
“With deep regret the Minnesota Vikings announce that offensive line coach Tony Sparano unexpectedly passed away early this morning,” the press release read. “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 Sparano’s in their thoughts.”
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Twitter user @bevinonotredame tweeted the following Sunday: “Sad news, a great coach and great friend passed away today. Tony Sparano passed away this morning of a heart attack and God bless his family. He was a great man.”
Sparano’s actual cause of death has not yet officially been declared.
How did Tony Sparano die
Sparano gained great notoriety in the NFL 10 years ago when he brought back the Wildcat offense with the Dolphins. Miami used the unique offense to upset the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium early in the 2008 season.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was one of the first players to give reaction to Sparano’s untimely death on Twitter.
“Thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Sparano, his family and everyone in the Vikings organization,” Rudolph wrote. “Life’s precious and we just never know when it’s our time. RIP coach.”
Former Dolphins player Brian Hartline, who played for Sparano with Miami, also sent out condolences.
“Heart broken and lost for words,” Hartline wrote. “We lost a great man. Prayers to the Sparano family. So glad I got to see you and tell you how much you meant to me a month ago.”