Coaches, players, and executives from around the league united in Wayzata, Minnesota, on Friday to honor the life of NFL coach Tony Sparano. Up until his unexpected death last Sunday, Sparano was offensive line coach for the Vikings. Sparano as held NFL coaching jobs in Cleveland, Washington, Jacksonville, Dallas, Miami (as head coach), New York (Jets), Oakland, and San Francisco. Posthumous tests revealed the main cause for the 56-year-old’s death to be arteriosclerotic heart disease.
To his players, Tony Sparano was more than just a football coach.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) July 23, 2018
The Vikings cancelled their team activities for the day. Pretty much the entire organization attended the funeral services. Also there were former coaches Sparano used to work with/for, like Rex and Rob Ryan, as well as Sean Payton.
Speaking of Sparano’s life, Rex Ryan told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press the following:
“He was a great coach [and] just ahell of a person … He was my kind of guy. He was a tough ass, but he was just special. He had a great rapport with his players. You knew what you were going to get from him. He was an honest man. Just a great coach.”
After the service, many in attendance spoke of the emotion and gravity in which Sporano’s wife, Jeanette, honored her late husband. Matthew Mulligan, who played under Sparano on the Dolphins, said:
“I thought that [Sparano’s wife] Jeanette was just amazing … Her eulogy, there was not a dry eye in the place. The thing that I got from the whole deal, she was saying, ‘It was faith, family, football for Tony,’ but that he was the best father and unrivaled as far as his compassion and love for his family.”
As a head coach, Tony Sparano went a combined 29-32 in four seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He also went 3-9 as interim head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2014.
Tony Sparano is survived by his wife, three children, and four grandchildren.