Vikings’ Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano Dies at 56

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano looks on from the sideline during the 2016 NFL week 4 regular season football game against the against the New York Giants on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 in Minneapolis. The Vikings won the game 24-10. (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Tony Sparano, the Vikings’ offensive line coach and former head coach of the Dolphins and Raiders, has died at the age of 56.

The Vikings announced Sparano’s death on Sunday afternoon. KSTP reports that Sparano died this morning at his home.

“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “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.”

Sparano grew up in Connecticut, played college football at the University of New Haven and then began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater in 1984. He later became the head coach at New Haven in 1994 and stayed there five seasons, including taking the team to the NCAA Division II championship game in 1997.

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SOURCE: NBC Sports, Michael David Smith